An attitude of gratitude (Florida Weekly)
The following is excerpted from the Thanksgiving Issue of Florida Weekly.
Thanksgiving is a time to relax and reflect on what is good in our lives. With that in mind, we have asked business and charity leaders what they are thankful for this holiday.
CKO (Chief Kid Officer) of Kayla Cares 4 Kids
Sometimes the smallest things that happen day to day make a huge difference and you may not even realize it, says Kayla Abramowitz, CKO (Chief Kid Officer) of Kayla Cares 4 Kids, a nonprofit the 14-year-old started in 2013 after she and her 11-year-old brother, Ethan, had extended hospital stays. The North Palm Beach teenager has Crohn’s disease, juvenile arthritis and eosinophilic colitis. Her brother has juvenile arthritis, eosinophilic esophagitis and uses a feeding machine.
Her organization collects and donates educational and entertainment items to children’s hospitals nationwide.
“The amazing kindness of people in the community and across the country have enabled Kayla Cares 4 Kids to thrive,” Miss Abramowitz said. “I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped turn my small idea into a very (unexpectedly) big national charity — especially the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce, which launched my organization through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy.
“Daszkal Bolton and Palm Beach Gardens Kiwanis held highly successful fundraisers, while STORE Self Storage donated a large storage unit,” she said. “Palm Beach SCORE provided me with a tremendous mentor in Kathy Rendo. Jupiter Medical Center made an extremely generous sponsorship. We are so very thankful for the generous in-kind donations from Preferred Printing, Signs by Tomorrow, Sam’s Club and Walmart. Several local schools, Hello Labs, Starbucks, Dr. Justin Chisari and Tenn Yuk Orthodontics have collected thousands of items for my organization.
“Organizations such as Volunteer Florida, Central Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, Palm Beach County Medical Society Services, Kohl’s Cares, Youth Service America/WPLG-TV and Jefferson Awards/WPTV have honored me locally, while Prudential, Office Depot Foundation, Diller Family Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce/ YEA and the Heart of America Foundation have all honored me with national awards.
“A Palm Beach Gardens couple I’ve never met donated $4,000 to Kayla Cares 4 Kids, after seeing a story about our organization. Politicians including Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, Gov. Rick Scott, Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rep. Lois Frankel, the North Palm Beach Village Council, Palm Beach Gardens City Council and even Chelsea Clinton have recognized my efforts.”
Recently, her organization received 1,000 DVDs from DreamWorks Animation and more than 300 items from Sony Pictures to distribute.
“With all of this support, plus the help of Kayla Cares 4 Kids Ambassadors across 11 states, more than 12,000 items have been donated to 107 children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses in all 50 states.”
“Many factors combined to make my organization what it is,” she said. “I’m extremely grateful to all the people both locally and nationally who believe in Kayla Cares 4 Kids and my vision to help sick kids feel better one smile at a time!”
— Mary Thurwachter