Today I discovered a great way to give away. Like many people, we have shelves full of DVDs of movies we’ve enjoyed and are holding onto just in case we want to want to watch them again. It is certainly nice to have a library of one’s favorite films, and my husband, David, a real lover of films, has been working hard to build a collection of his most beloved movies. However, we also have a shelf full of kids’ films, mostly animation but some live action, that we have bought over the years (usually at yard sales) to watch with our son Theo. Although some of them are real treasures – especially anything from Aardman Animation, Studio Ghibli and Pixar – many are films we probably won’t watch again, and if we want to, we always have Netflix. So what to do with all the DVDs we don’t need?
In 2002, four sisters in Los Angeles had a similar realization about their shelves full of DVDs. At the time, they had a young friend who was being treated in hospital for leukemia, and they learned that being able to watch movies helps many children in hospital cope with the fear, discomfort and tedium of long hours alone in hospital. They established a non-profit called Kid Flicks and collected mini libraries of 100 DVDs each to donate to children’s hospitals and the pediatric wings of larger hospitals. They started in Los Angeles with a few local hospitals and gradually expanded their reach across the country. Thirteen years later, as of February 17, 2015, Kid Flicks (www.kidflicks.org) has collected and donated 86,300 movies to over 830 hospitals throughout the United States and South Africa. As soon as I discovered this organization, I pulled a few DVDs off our shelf, stuffed them in an envelope and sent them off to the Los Angeles-based headquarters of this wonderful non-profit organization. Years ago both my mother and my younger brother spent many weeks and months in hospital being treated for leukemia. If the tiny act of mailing my underused DVDs to this non-profit can help ease the suffering and loneliness of children struggling with such illnesses, I have a feeling that this will be the first of many packages I’ll be sending their way.