Child Care Center Raises Funds for iPads for Camden Clark through Kids for Kids Initiative

A Vienna child care center raised around $2,000 for WVU Medicine Camden Clark, which will go toward the purchase of several iPads for children to use during their hospital stays. Olivia and Friends owner Samantha Byers initially set out to raise funds for some new equipment for the center, but pivoted to splitting funds between the center’s needs and the needs of the community.

“We actually started this to raise funds for a playground and garden for our kids, and we turned it into a kids for kids initiative,” said Byers. “We fundraised with the goal of half going to an organization that supported kids, meaning kids helping other kids.”

Byers wanted to support an organization that was child- and family-based. She chose Camden Clark after hearing about the personal experiences of parents she knew who had either given birth there or those who have had to take their children there for surgical procedures.

“They do a lot of stuff there to make kids comfortable and less scared,” said Byers.

In total, Olivia and Friends raised about $4,160, with half going to the hospital and the remainder going toward items for the child care center. These included a drum set, a mud kitchen, a large swing, an outdoor table, and the implementation of a raised garden bed.

“We’ve been planting vegetables,” said Byers. “We added a pollinator garden. Each kid made a bee and butterfly watering station. They decorated those.”

The center raised funds through a contest among their young clients: Each child who participated had a team and was allowed to choose a color for their team. Whichever “team” raised the most money was permitted to make a crucial choice for the center — whether they would get to celebrate with a pizza party, or an ice cream party.

“My daughter picked her favorite color, purple,” said Byers. “Friends and family could donate toward their team. Our winner picked ice cream, so we built ice cream sundaes. It was a mess in the best sort of way.”

As for the hospital donation, Byers said they were kind enough to come to Olivia and Friends.

“We did a big official check handoff to them,” she said. “They met the kids, who handed the check. I like having the kids do things so they understand about giving back, and how important it is to help other people. The initiative helps them see that giving back is important and makes a difference.”

“It was an honor to meet Samantha and the children that she cares for,” wrote Candace White, Director of Perioperative Services at WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center, in a statement. “This is such a generous gift and an amazing act of kindness from Ms. Byers, the children, and their parents. It is very heartwarming to see someone working to instill the value of helping others in children at such an early age. This donation will be split between departments to assist with the purchase of items to help comfort children during their stay with us. Some of the funds will be used to buy iPads for children to use before and after their surgical procedure. This will provide some fun stress relief for pediatric patients during a time that can be scary to them. “

Byers said she hopes to see Olivia and Friends’ new kids for kids initiative continue in other ways.

“We have a couple things lined up,” she said, adding that a family event for this summer is in the works. “It’s about families and kids in our community and learning to help other people equally.”

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