Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Presentation of $14,045.00 to Driscoll Children's Hospital in July, 2016.

From left: Esther, Dorothy, John Hyde (Director of Major and Planned Gifts), Martha Avery (Vice-President , Development), Richard Harris (Children's Miracle Network Administrator) and Janie.


Beginning in 1982, when we were still just having Christmas open houses to which we invited family and friends, our parents and the three of us made a donation to The Children’s Heart Institute (CHI).  We determined, as a family, that we would give a total of $2.00 for each guest who signed our guestbook, and Dorothy made sure that every man, woman, and child who walked through the door signed! There were over 600 people who came by invitation that Christmas.
That first year, we raised $1,660.00, because many of our friends and family made donations, too. The very next year, the donations totaled $2,300.00 and each year after that, the amount grew larger.
By 1986, we decided to open our home for public tours, charging an admission fee of $4.50. We gave $1.00 of that to CHI.  We still had some open houses to which we invited family and friends, and many of them continued to make donations. Since they didn’t pay to see the house, we continued to give $2.00 for each of them and many of them made donations.
The admission fee was raised a couple of times during the first few years, but we changed it to $8.00 at some point, and that price still stands today.  We have continued to give $1.00 out of each paid admission, and we three still share and give a total of $2.00 for each non-paying guest.  In addition to that, each one of us has always added our own personal donation every season.
In January of 1993, a guest jokingly gave Dorothy a nickel to play the antique organ. Dorothy agreed to put it on the organ, telling the woman that at the end of the season, the nickel would be added to the CHI donations.  However, other guests decided to add to it, and by the end of the season, a grand total of $66.55 had been left on the organ for CHI!  So, instead of adding it to the other donations, we gave it as "The Organ Fund." That became a tradition and continues to this day, started each season by our first group that has been coming every year for 30 years, and have had a standing reservation to be the first tour for over 26 years.
Dr. James W. Simpson, M.D., who was a pediatric cardiologist, head of cardiology at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, and the founder and operator of CHI, passed away in 2002. CHI was phased out in 2009, as Driscoll Children’s Hospital opened facilities to treat children in the Rio Grande Valley.  At that time, we made the decision to continue raising money to help children with heart conditions by benefiting DCH Cardiology Care.
During the 2015 season, our guests left a total of $3,990.46 on the antique pump organ, making a grand total of $78,099.07 through the years. That’s quite a return on a single nickel!
On April 24th, 2016, we had a special Birthday Open House for Esther in celebration of her 85th birthday. We invited family and friends, requesting no gifts, cards, or flowers. We did say that if they wanted to honor Esther, a donation for Driscoll Children’s Hospital could be put in a special basket near the guest book. The donations came not only from those who attended the party, but also from family and friends who were invited, but could not be here. The total amount donated in honor of Esther was $2,000.00! WOW, THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO HONORED ESTHER!
Including the Organ Fund, $1.00 from each paid admission, $2.00 from us for each non-paying guest, donations from family and friends, our personal contributions, and Esther’s birthday donations, we raised $14,045.00 during the 2015 Christmas season.  The grand total from 1982 through the end of the 2015 Christmas season now totals $322,905.00.
Thank you to everyone who visited The Christmas House during our 2015 Christmas season, making the contributions possible, thanks to all of our tour guests who made their own contributions on the organ, and thanks to friends and family who contributed in Esther's honor.  It is more than greatly appreciated by the three of us and by Driscoll Children’s Hospital. It is our prayer that in some small way during all these years, our Christmas House has been instrumental in helping many South Texas children with heart problems.

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