My Commitment to Miracle Market

2018 Miracle Market at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. © Karen Pulfer Focht

By Erika Gilbert, AE (Florida State University), Director of Alumnae Engagement

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been sharing information via email and on social media about making donations to Phi Mu’s Miracle Market. I wanted to share with you why this is so meaningful for Phi Mu, for the kids we help and also for me. Three years ago, I had the dream to put on Miracle Market and I feel extremely passionately about this program and our partnership with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Miracle Market at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
© Karen Pulfer Focht

The mission of Miracle Market is simple: to provide a space where patients and their parents, guardians or caregivers can “shop,” at no cost, for gifts to give to one another. Small things that so many people take for granted – like going to stores over the holiday season to find presents for loved ones – are not feasible options for people confined to a hospital. During our first two years of Miracle Market, Phi Mu donated more than $40K worth of in-kind gifts to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis and Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. Both years, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our members as we exceeded our goals.

When I was speaking with our CMN Hospital rep earlier this fall, I mentioned to him that it felt truly impossible to select only one hospital to support. I am a big dreamer, having always lived by the philosophy that you take on big risks to receive huge rewards… and Miracle Market is no different. I knew that we could commit to supporting four hospitals this year, but I also knew that this would be a BIG challenge during these uncertain times. The pandemic has changed everything for all of us but CMN Hospitals have continued to provide life-saving care to pediatric patients and they need our help, now more than ever.

Miracle Market at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
© Karen Pulfer Focht

In October, we supported our first hospital, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Maryland, with a reverse trick-or-treating event. This month, we are spreading holiday cheer by supporting three hospitals: Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU in Virginia; James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital in Greenville, North Carolina; and MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. You can learn more about our fundraising efforts for each of these hospitals here.

During last year’s Miracle Market at Children’s of Alabama, I experienced something that I will not ever forget. As we were celebrating with the patients in our Frozen-themed lobby, a Code Red happened, right in front of us. As a parent, it was heartbreaking to see another parent begging for help and a child in desperate need. As scary as the situation was, I was truly impressed by the Children’s staff, from the barista at the coffee shop to the more than 50 doctors and nurses who showed up in that lobby, within seconds. These incredible staff set up a mobile hospital room in the lobby within minutes and surrounded that family so they could not only receive the best care but also have privacy during that terrifying moment.

This is memory brings tears to my eyes as I write about it but it also strengthens my resolve to continue the mission of Miracle Market. Not only do CMN Hospitals need the funds to provide life-saving equipment and patient care, they also need funds to help bring joy to their patients and families who are experiencing the unthinkable. Since that day, I am devoting as much time and effort as I can to support these kids and their families through Miracle Market.

Phi Mu volunteers at 2019 Miracle Market at Children’s of Alabama.

I hope you will consider supporting Miracle Market this year. Although I know how much our members have enjoyed donating toys, games and gift cards to our hospitals in the past, the pandemic has restricted us to providing monetary gifts this year. The hospitals will then use that money to purchase what is most beneficial. Your gifts will be so much more than just a teddy bear or a game console – they will provide countless hours of joy, compassion and companionship to these pediatric patients.

It is my hope that we not only raise $17,500 for Miracle Market but that we exceed our goals this year. Here is what your donations will support:

James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital, Greenville, N.C.

We are raising $5,000 to purchase stationary and hand-held game consoles for each patient. Donate today to help provide opportunities for in-room entertainment and excitement for the kids.

MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, Charleston, S.C.

We are raising $5,000 to deliver a teddy bear to each patient and provide a holiday tree for the Oncology and Blood Disorders Unit. Donate today to spread holiday cheer and bring joy and comfort to the kids during their stay at the hospital.

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Richmond, Va.

We are raising $7,500 to support the diversification of their library and provide hygiene kits to families. Donate today to support families and ensure that the library books available represent every child and their abilities.

I hope you will join me in supporting Miracle Market!