Imagine being a young child in the hospital with a serious illness and in walks your favorite fairy princess or superhero. Joy and sunshine suddenly fill the room. This was the idea behind A Moment of Magic, one of our recent recipients of a Marie Barth grant.
Marie Barth grants are our small grants program named after Howard Phillip’s mother. In 1909, at the age of 17, Marie won an essay contest on the topic “What I Would Do if I had the Money.” As our plans were being made for starting Phillips Charitable Foundation, we were thrilled to find her winning essay! Rather than discussing what she’d purchase for herself, she focused on her desire to spread joy, sunshine, and comfort. We honor that dream from long ago by occasionally choosing grantees who do just that, spread joy and sunshine. A Moment of Magic fit the bill.
A Moment of Magic provides medically vulnerable children with a variety of creative programming. Volunteers are all college students. There are currently 20 chapters all over the U.S. with over 1,000 college student volunteers. The volunteers dress up like a child’s favorite fairy princess or superhero and visit them at local hospitals.
Fordham University Moment of Magic Volunteers
The Marie Barth grant went to the Moment of Magic chapter at Fordham University. Gabrielle Bertuola, the current Fundraising Chair and future President of the Fordham Chapter, described why she was drawn to this organization. “I’ve always been passionate about working with kids and I’ve always loved Disney” explained Gabrielle. “Being able to combine those passions is so unique.” She said that interacting with the children was her favorite part. She, like the other volunteers, love seeing the reactions as a child’s favorite princess or superhero walks into their room.
The services at A Moment of Magic include bedside visits, large event appearances, book readings, sing-a-longs, and what they call Character Portal Calls. It was these portal calls, or online video calls, that has enabled them to keep the magic alive during the Coronavirus pandemic. These are 30 minute private video calls with a child’s favorite character. The Character Portal Calls enables the children to experience the joy of childhood while also keeping everyone healthy and safe.
When volunteers aren’t dressing up as princesses or superheroes, they’re able to help out with a newly added virtual service called “Magic in the Making.” High school students can connect with college students to learn more about college life, the school they attend, and about A Moment of Magic.
To bring some sunshine and joy into your own day, just read some of the heartwarming stories on A Moment of Magic’s website. All of their calls and other services are free. The $3,000 grant from Phillips Charitable Foundation went towards transportation costs, buying gifts for kids in hospitals, and repairing and maintaining their costumes.
We cherish the words and dreams that Marie Barth left to us through her long ago essay. It doesn’t get much better than being able to spread joy and sunshine, especially now. We were thrilled to give a Marie Barth grant to the unique and innovative A Moment of Magic.