Virtual Valentines: Here's how to send love, and real cards, to sick children

Eun Kyung Kim

Here’s a sweet way to share your heart with a child. With a few key strokes and a single click, you can send a card and cheerful message to young patients spending Valentine’s Day in the hospital.

Since these children can’t participate in Valentine’s Day activities with their classmates, hospitals have found ways to bring love notes to them, sometimes from around the world.

“We’ve gotten some valentines as far as Australia and India,” said Monica Rizzo, a spokeswoman for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which also throws a big party for the occasion.

“It’s nice because for that little bit of time, they forget that they’re sick, and they don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything. In fact, they feel like their friends are missing out on the fun at Children’s Hospital!”

Numerous children’s hospitals and pediatric units across the country have set up websites to help spread the love. Anyone interested in sending a valentine simply needs to go online, and then either pick out a preselected message or write out a personal note, depending on the site. (Many hospitals advise keeping the focus on Valentine’s Day or spreading cheer, rather than relaying a “get well” message.)

The cards then get printed out or delivered electronically, virtually or some other way to the children — all for free!

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles now receives around 50,000 messages every Valentine's Day, but the hospital saw the number climb to 120,000 one year after actress and singer Zendaya tweeted about the program.

Rizzo said Valentine's Day reflects emotions everyone can relate to.

“You go to school, and you get all these valentines from your friends, and it makes you feel good. And that’s what we try to do; we try to bring that feel-good feeling to the patients,” she said. “It’s something so simple as a little valentine, but I’m a grown up and I still love getting valentines. It gives you a special feeling that someone is thinking about me. It makes them feel really good, and it brings smiles.”

Here are some organizations operating a Valentine’s Day card campaign for their patients, but check your local health center to see if they’re participating in a similar program.

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