Nonprofit that helps families of sick kids faces budget shortage

Nonprofit that helps families of sick kids struggles because of economy

Posted:
"We've sent them to Canada. We've sent them to the UK. I've sent them to military bases out in the Middle East, that would probably be the furthest!" Coulter said. "We've sent them to Canada. We've sent them to the UK. I've sent them to military bases out in the Middle East, that would probably be the furthest!" Coulter said.
Her son, Ben, was born with a severe heart defect. Surgery saved his life. Now he and little sister Holly help fill these special bags to give families something to do while in the hospital waiting room. Her son, Ben, was born with a severe heart defect. Surgery saved his life. Now he and little sister Holly help fill these special bags to give families something to do while in the hospital waiting room.
"The care packages have things in them that you might forget while you're out of town, toothbrush, toothpaste," said co-founder Melissa Marti. "The care packages have things in them that you might forget while you're out of town, toothbrush, toothpaste," said co-founder Melissa Marti.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Forty thousand children each year are born with a heart defect.

Sometimes surgery is the only answer. It's a scary time for the whole family.

One woman's has started a crusade to help make the journey a little easier, but now she needs help.

The type of surgery many kids with congenital heart defects need is most often performed at a specialized hospital. They have to travel and often there's no time to carefully pack a bag.

That's where a local group comes in to fill the gap.

Karin Coulter founded a local nonprofit called Saving Little Hearts.

She puts together care packages for families of kids facing heart surgery all over the world.

The bags became pretty popular through word of mouth and the group's website and Facebook page.

"We've sent them to Canada. We've sent them to the UK. I've sent them to military bases out in the Middle East, that would probably be the furthest!" Coulter said, laughing.

Her son, Ben, was born with a severe heart defect. Surgery saved his life.

Now he and little sister Holly help fill these special bags to give families something to do while in the hospital waiting room.

It's a way the Coulter family can give back.

There's everything from stuffed animals to water bottles from supporters in the community either giving Saving Little Hearts the items or money to purchase them.

But donations are down thanks to the economy and Coulter is worried she won't be able to fulfill all of this year's requests.

"We've gone drastically down from a few years ago where we were able to do more than 3,000 care packages a year to just a few hundred this past year," she said.

Each bag is worth under $40, thanks to Coulter and co-founder Melissa Marti who've learned how to stretch every donated dollar and make the bags a true help to tiny heart patients and their families.

"The care packages have things in them that you might forget while you're out of town, toothbrush, toothpaste," said Marti.

"If we buy the items in bulk, we can get it down to $35. That includes the bag itself and having those printed and all the things in it," said Coulter.

Karin is hoping for more donations and is counting on local businesses to pitch in.

"We've had a few dentists here and there that will donate toothpaste and toothbrushes. That helps," said Coulter. "Notepads, pens, things that businesses even with their logos and stuff if you want to promote your business you can do it that way."

The latest batch of bags is ready to be boxed up and mailed. Everyone involved is hoping it's not the last.

If you'd like to help Saving Little Hearts continue their cause, just go to the group's website.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.