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Monday, December 17, 2012

Spread the Word this Holiday Season about Charley’s Random Acts of Kindness Event

Nothing is more heart-wrenching than losing a loved one; especially, a child. It really hits home around the holidays. So, this season, population-we™ provides readers with a tool to battle the holiday uncertainties in the memory of a little girl.

"Love and speak now as you would wish to love and speak in the midst of loss. When that time comes, your past will speak through your presence, and being there will be enough," said Matt Hammitt, a heart parent and one of the founding members of Sanctus Real.

This time of year, loss hits home for the founders of Charley's Heart. The foundation was started by Kristen and Matt Ritchie in memory of their daughter, Charlotte (Charley). The foundation's goal is to help research for congenital heart defects (CHD), provide support to the CHD community, raise awareness, and above all, to celebrate the life of Charlotte. CHD is the most common type of major birth defect.

To channel her thoughts and share her family's story, Kristen started a blog ( She also began reading the blogs of other heart parents, becoming part of a CHD community.

The following is an account Kristen wrote on her blog when they learned Charley had CHD.

Aug. 15, 2011: The next pieces of the story are a blur. I retained little pieces of information…

“We can’t see a good view of her heart.”

“You have an appointment with pediatric cardiology tomorrow.”

“Termination is an option…You didn’t sign up for this.”

“Pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum…Hypoplastic right ventricle.”

“Surgery required within days after birth followed by more, which still won’t make her heart normal.”

"I just keep reminding myself that God has a plan for our brave little girl. She taught us so much in her short 12 months on Earth and the outpouring that we have had from all of you just shows us how powerful her story is," Kristen said.

Charley passed away on May 31, 2011. She was born on May 15, 2010. She had her first surgery at one week old and her second at two weeks.

Her sister, Jill Musil, said: "Many of you know the story of my sister, her husband and their little girl – my niece, Charlotte. Charlotte has been an angel for a little over a year and a half now…Some things have become easier for Matt and Kristen, but there are other things, like the holidays, that stir lots and lots of emotion. From day one, though, Kristen has chosen to channel her negative emotion into positive acts…"

In the spirit of the holidays Charley's Heart Foundation is hosting a Random Acts of Kindness event and we're calling on our population-we™  readers to participate.

Musil also rallies behind her sister's foundation and asks friends and family members to participate. She said, "Kristen is unbelievable! I wish I could be more like her…finding silver linings even in the darkest of times. So, it comes as no surprise to me that she’s still got more to give. During this holiday season, she’s asked her friends and family to participate and share a new event – Charley’s Random Acts of Kindness! This event will cost you nothing but will mean the world to her and her family!"

Want to help? Kristen outlines how everyone can participate below:

Charlotte AKA Charley
1.  This holiday season, COMMIT to doing something nice for someone…it’s really as simple as that. Seek out opportunities, become aware of the needs of those around you and open your hearts. It doesn’t have to be anything BIG…even the tiniest gestures can have tremendous effects. Leave treats in your mailbox for a postal worker, remove the snow from a neighbor’s sidewalk, hold a door open for a stranger…

2.  DEDICATE your Random Act of Kindness to our baby girl. What does that mean? Well, all that I really ask is that you think of Miss Charlotte while carrying out your Act.  Remember her. Continue to give her purpose here on Earth. Share her story. 

3.  DOCUMENT your Acts and share them with me! It can be a short sentence or two in an email, a long detailed explanation or even a simple picture…just something to let us know how you chose to brighten someone’s day this holiday season.  

Snail mail:  16424 Timberlane Drive, Omaha, NE 68136

4.  SHARE this blog post with friends and family. Help spread the word about Charley’s Random Acts of Kindness and encourage others to participate. The more the merrier!

"I hope you can find an opportunity to perform a Random Act this season…and if you can’t, I ask that you please send your thoughts and prayers to my sis and her family or anyone who may need a little extra TLC getting through the holidays!" Musil said.

Another component to this first-ever Random Acts of Kindness event it is a Christmas present of Kirsten's husband Matt. All emails she receives will be compiled into a book that will serve as Matt’s gift. Anything that comes via "snail mail" will be placed (unopened) into Charley’s stocking for Kirsten and Matt to open together on Christmas morning.  

"Just thinking of her stocking full of tributes to her is enough to bring me to tears. I am so in love with this idea and hope that we can make it a part of our family’s Christmas tradition for years to come,"  Kristen said. "I hope that you will consider helping with the first-ever Charley’s Random Acts of Kindness event. I pray that all of us will be struck by inspiration and find it within ourselves to do for others this holiday season."

As this Random Acts of Kindness campaign hopefully goes viral over the Internet as family, friends and strangers remember Charley's life, Kristen said, "I love you Charley Bear! Mommy is doing her best to keep your memory strong and your story alive in people's hearts."

- population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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