Friday, November 16, 2012

The Little Giraffe Foundation

            The baby’s breathing keeps in time with the cadence of his mother reading.  The sounds of the outside world melt away as he finds an oasis in the myriad of noises surrounding him.  Just as her voice lulled him to sleep in her womb, so it does out here.  The bond he has to her voice continues as they both wait in anticipation for the day in which she can hold him.  They thought it would happen the day he was born into this cold world, but alas, his early arrival landed him in an incubator isolated from her touch. 

            The life of a preemie is stressful, but his mother’s voice is a reminder that he is not alone.  Parents of preemies can feel isolated and Mike and Amanda Santoro felt that loneliness when their twins were born premature.  Although their daughter Cheyenne did not survive, she is able to live on through the Little Giraffe Foundation created in her honor by her parents. 

Little Giraffe Foundation’s main purpose is to improve the quality of life in preemie’s both during their stay in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and beyond.  They have been able to work toward this goal by raising money to fund neonatal research.  In 2012, they offered $12,000 in grants.  Two grants went directly to research.  Two more grants went to NICUs in need.  Some of these NICUs have patients whose parents live in rural areas and visiting their babies is not a trivial matter.  These grants allowed the NICUs to offer assistance through gas cards and to set up a food pantry for the parents.

            Most importantly, the Little Giraffe Foundation helps the parents of NICU patients know they are not alone and that there are people out there who have been through the same struggles.  Gift bags containing such things as books, toys, and personal notes are donated by the foundation during the holidays to let the parents know that they are not forgotten.  The foundation currently serves six hospitals in the Chicagoland area in this manner with each hospital caring for up to sixty patients.  Since its inception, the Little Giraffe Foundation has distributed over one thousand gift bags. 

The foundation’s ability to complete their mission is dependent on donations from kind people and volunteers with a passion to serve.  If you would like more information about the Little Giraffe Foundation or would like to volunteer, the website address is  

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