Derwood girl gives birthday money to Shady Grove Hospital
Earns honor of lighting Christmas tree for her donation
Six-year-old Piper Nagaraj of Derwood lit the Christmas tree in the lobby of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville Dec. 6.
Her mother, Barbara Nagaraj, said Piper turned 6 in August and they decided to give any money she received for her birthday to a charitable organization. They sent out birthday invitations asking for donations instead of gifts this year.
"We collected $100 from all of her friends," Barbara Nagaraj said. "We were completely thrilled. She actually built a little box to put the money in and decorated it with glitter and stickers."
Nagaraj said Piper donated the money to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital's pediatrics unit, which helped to pay for Caring Walls posters that are used to decorate the children's rooms.
Based in Arlington, Va., Caring Walls is a privately owned company started by twin sisters Kitty Janney and Betsy Gregory after their mother was diagnosed with leukemia in 2007. During their mother's six-month stay at the hospital for chemotherapy treatments, the family decorated her walls with uplifting photos and designs. Since then, they have worked in partnership with other medical facilities to provide posters and decorations for patients' rooms.
The family also made a matching donation to the Starlight Children's Foundation MidAtlantic, which has a partnership with Shady Grove.
Peggy Brooke, child life specialist at Shady Grove, said she has seen many children like Piper donate money from their birthdays, bar mitzvahs and other holidays to the hospital.
"There's definitely a trend toward philanthropy," Brooke said. "More and more kids want to give to kids in hospitals. It's been a real cultural change over the last several years, and it is really nice to see that."
Nagaraj said her daughter met and took a photo with Starry, the Starlight Foundation's mascot; helped pass out books to children in the pediatrics unit; and greeted several mothers and their newborns.
"She was thrilled, and a little embarrassed by all the attention," her mother said. "It was a good experience. Piper felt good about it. We hope to continue the tradition every year."
For more information on donations to Shady Grove, visit www.adventisthealthcare.com.
For more information on Caring Walls, visit www.caringwalls.com.