My Joyful Heart celebrated our 10-year Anniversary in 2012 -- over ten years now of making a difference in local kids' lives. We are proud to have provided thousands of Gift Packages providing life's essentials to the children of My Joyful Heart over the past years.
We encourage you to read more on how our program works, learn about how we find the children who are enrolled, see how our actions positively impact the children we serve, become a sponsor to help a specific child in our program or volunteer with us to help us grow. We hope you connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for our email list to keep in touch. There are many ways to become involved with My Joyful Heart and we hope to hear from you soon!
Read the story below to hear how it all started ten years ago....
For many years I read newspaper stories about child abuse and thought there had to be something I could do to help these kids; I never followed up with any action though because I simply didn't know what one person could do to help. When a story about a 6-year-old boy who was thrown over a 3rd floor railing to his death because he wouldn't steal candy for his friends made news, again I felt I had to do something. But I was at a loss as to what and, again, I took no action.
The holiday season was approaching in 2001; I once again fulfilled the Christmas wishes of needy children, as I did in past years. Somehow this time it just didn't seem to be enough.
Back at work after the holidays in January of 2002, I listened to conversations amongst the employees who had young children as they compared notes on the number of toys their kids had received for Christmas. When I heard someone comment that her children had received "too much," I thought about the inner city kids whose Christmas wishes I had filled and wondered if Christmas gifts were all that they had to look forward to all year. This thought weighed heavy on my heart and I knew at that moment that I could and would do something about that!
I contacted the school that the children I had provided for attended to find out what else I could do for them. I learned that one of the children, a little boy, was in special education and desperately needed attention. In speaking with the children's advocate at the school, I told her I would like to continue to provide gifts for these two children not only at Christmas time, but also for other holidays throughout the year as well as their birthdays. She was understandably apprehensive; however, she agreed to help me by distributing the gifts. I happened to be reading a book at the time called "A Love Worth Giving" by Max Lucado, in which he referenced a proven study that revealed if children are made to feel special, they respond. I knew when I read this that it was exactly what I wanted to do for these two kids -- make them feel special.
During the Easter season in 2002, my daughter and son-in-law noticed two baskets I had filled and asked who they were for. Upon hearing my story about my commitment to provide gifts for two children throughout the year, their immediate response was that they also wanted to provide gifts for two children. We had decided to pack gift bags for the summer, and we filled backpacks for the children when it was back-to-school time.
The following Christmas of 2002, Billy* asked for "a game, clothes, hand wipes, tissues and a hug." When I read that an 8-year old boy included a hug on his Christmas wish list, my heart broke. I bought him everything on his list and much more, along with a winter coat that he greatly needed. I also sent him a bag of Hershey's Hugs wrapped with a note that each one was a hug from me. The gifts I provided for Billy through My Joyful Heart were the only ones he received. My only wish was that Billy's heart was as full of joy to receive his gifts as mine was to give them!
After returning to work and sharing my joy in providing for the children at Christmas, several of my co-workers wanted to sign up and help needy children. By the end of the first year, nineteen people were on board. It became clear that My Joyful Heart was being launched!
In March of 2006, I left my 14-year career to devote my time fully to My Joyful Heart. Because I am self-supporting, I didn’t see how My Joyful Heart would be able to provide salaries for anyone. As daunting as this seemed, I put my trust in GOD once again and my worrying ceased. I knew I was in good hands. And He HAS provided! !
* Name has been changed to protect privacy
~ Diane Carroll
Founder, My Joyful Heart