When kids are in the hospital fighting against Cancer , what is the first thing they might ask for? A toy? Ice cream? Video games? Computers? Not according to one Child Life Specialist. “Movies are the first things kids ask for when they are in the hospital,” she says. Enter four sisters: Berni, Romi, Lexi , and Marni Barta. Motivated by this premise, they founded Kid Flicks – a non-profit charitable organization devoted to stocking the shelves of children’s hospitals everywhere with movies.
While conducting spring cleaning in 2002, the Barta sisters found several used DVDs that they no longer watched. Thinking of a mutual friend that was being treated for Leukemia at the Pediatric Oncology Department of the Los Angeles hospital, the sisters decided to take action. They knew that their friend liked to watch movies to pass the time while she was in the hospital and decided to donate those used movies to her hospital. But they didn’t just stop there, that afternoon they began the first steps towards creating Kid Flicks. They wrote solicitation letters to family and friends requesting DVD donations. Within the first week they had gathered over 100 movies, and their efforts gained steam from there.
Thanks, in no small part, to the massive amount of donations that continued to cycle in, the Barta sisters decided to donate a movie library consisting of 100 assorted films to as many hospitals as they could. After contacting movie studios, and production companies, organizing drives at their schools, working with local pediatricians to advertise their organization, news began to spread. Their positive efforts became contagious and other people began organizing their own drives to raise new and used DVD collections at religious schools, through Brownie Troops organizations, and promotions by radio and television interviews.
Today, people from across the nation send dozens of DVDs to the girls, and their outreach has included stocking DVD libraries to every hospital within a five-hour driving radius around Los Angeles. Presently, Kid Flicks is donating movies across the United States and has expanded into South Africa. As of February 11, 2011 Kid Flicks has donated 57,000 movies to 570 different hospitals. But shipping these movies isn’t free. Not to be deterred, these four innovative and high achieving sisters began applying for grants and awards to help pay costs to ship the libraries.
While their journey has taken them international, along the way they have won numerous awards, including:
- The Gladys Marinelli Coccia Award at the National Service-Learning Conference in San Jose. This award was founded in memory of Gladys Coccia, who began her entrepreneurial career as a young girl in West Virginia and went on to become a successful businesswoman and community leader in Washington, D.C. Berni was one of two girls to win this award and was granted a $2,000 donation for Kid Flicks.
- Huggable Heroes: Marni was named a 2008 Build-A-Bear Workshop® Huggable Heroes® finalist. She was one of 31 young people from around the world being honored by Build-A-Bear Workshop® for demonstrating strong leadership, dedication and compassion to make positive strides in the world.
- Most notably, On January 29, 2008 Marni and Berni Barta received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President George W. Bush when he visited Los Angeles. After he presented the Kid Flicks founders with the award, the girls were given a private tour of Air Force One.
Their goal — which may have once seemed like shooting for the stars, is well on its way to becoming a reality – to, “provide every children’s hospital and pediatric department in the county with a Kid Flicks ‘movie library’.” You can help them in their cause by visiting www.kidflicks.org or on Facebook. On their website you can see their list of recipients and impressive list of donors.
If you know a little boy or girl recovering from a serious or potentially life threatening illness in a children’s hospital, give them all the warmth and love you can, maybe a bowl of ice cream, and their favorite teddy bear, and don’t forget to pop a movie in the DVD player. Maybe you can pull that movie from a Kid Flicks DVD library, and maybe, you can send the Barta sisters some of your used DVDs to support their cause. Every child deserves the right to be a kid, and no child needs the diversion of an upbeat and comical movie or cartoon, than a child struggling with a serious illness.
This post was written by Brent Pearson….Blogunteer supporter and husband.