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“Our Story”

Hi!!!

We are the Leonard’s….your typical, small town, rural family of 5, with a strong love for family, friends, and making people SMILE!!! We have 3 beautiful (energetic, crazy, spunky, silly, outgoing) kids who keep us on our toes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

We became parents in August of 2009, when we welcomed our sweet baby boy, Darren, into this world. He was perfect, and we officially had our own little family!!! When he was 6 weeks old, we noticed that his left eye became “lazy,” and it was advised by our pediatrician to see an ophthalmologist at our local children’s hospital. Just 2 weeks later, at the eye appointment, our journey with childhood cancer began. Darren, was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor at just 8 weeks old.

Darren continues to kick cancers butt, and is currently in his 3rd round of treatment, which marks 10 years and MANY different chemo’s and approaches, but he’s done it all with such courage, strength and a SMILE! God has carried us through, and it’s amazing watching his story unfold, and see the plan that He has for his life! Darren LOVES his roll as CSM or “Chief SMILE Maker” here at Happy Crates, and he is the founder of our non-profit, “Happy Crates Gives.”

While walking the halls of the hospital, time and time again, we learned the true value of a SMILE. It’s something that I believe we ALL take for granted at some point in our crazy, busy lives. Hustling from one thing to another, just worrying about ourselves, and taking care of our own families. However I must say, the SMILE from that stranger walking towards us in the hall, or that little one glancing up for a quick grin while racing down the hall to their appointment, began to brighten some of the darkest days through our journey. It was then that we realized, that something that could help bring US joy through our journey, was by helping bring joy to others!

The Leonards

Our family started with “Darren’s Joy Bags” back in 2012, which were bags filled with fun toys and activities to help keep the kids busy while doing their treatments, inpatient stays, etc. We would put a post on fb reaching out to our friends and family, letting them know that we had a goal of delivering these bags to the oncology kids at Darren’s hospital, and if anyone would like to help, to let us know! It never failed, in a matter of 24 hrs, or less, we’d end up with double our goal, and sometimes more! Year after year, it grew and we expanded to delivering them to another area hospital, in addition to our own! We learned that people wanted a way to help, but just never knew how to go about doing something like this, other than just donating toys to the hospital. THEY were excited that they got to have a direct impact in making a child smile, and WE were excited to get to witness that SMILE when we delivered them to the hospital!

We truly believe that attitude is such a HUGE part of the battle, for not only the child, but the family as well. Through treatments, hospital stays, illness, surgeries, pokes, and EVERYTHING else that comes with a cancer treatment, seeing a simple SMILE on their face can brighten even the darkest days. The words “your child has cancer” are words that NO parent should ever have to hear, but until that day comes, we’re determined to do everything that we can do to put SMILES on the faces of the kids that fight a battle that NO child should ever have to endure.

When you shop Happy Crates, it’s so much more than just a shirt, or just a gift crate that you sent to someone to make them SMILE, it goes so much further, and for that, we thank YOU! <3 “Together, we create SMILES!”

Always remember,
Have COURAGE, be KIND, spread JOY, and Stand tall to END childhood cancer!!

Sincerely,

She gave up her birthday

Life is amazing. Sometimes, something as simple as the paths of two sweet kids crossing at a fun event can create the most amazing results. Case in point, Ava Tucker impacted our lives forever when she gave up her birthday gifts to give Happy Crates to other kids affected by cancer in the hospital.

We had the honor of meeting 7-year-old, Ava Tucker, and her mom Amy, at the Superhero Family fun Day in Glen Bernie, MD. The goal of this event is to create a fun and safe atmosphere for families and raise money for The Children’s Cancer Foundation.  Lucky for us, Ava and her mom stopped by our Happy Crates table to learn more about our family’s story, and how Happy Crates came to be. 

Amy reached out the day after we met and let us know that Ava wanted to use her personal gifts from her birthday to raise money to do something for kids with cancer. We were so excited and instantly got to work on what we now know as our Happy Crates “Share A SMILE” program. As a childhood cancer family ourselves, we know the value of a simple smile. What we’ve found is that there are so many that wish to help in any way they can, but they don’t quite know how. Our “Share A SMILE” program, allows others to do just that!

Over the course of her birthday, and the weeks following, Ava rallied her incredible friends & family to help her send Happy Crates to children going through treatment at John Hopkins Children’s center. 

The magic of this birthday miracle came to light when Ava got to deliver the Happy Crates filled with toys, games, crafts and more! In an incredible and humbling moment, we got to witness this young lady unload boxes onto the carts that were heading up to the oncology floor. Here is a child/family, who has thankfully never been personally affected by childhood cancer, working hard to help children they’ve never met. It’s everything good in this world. Witnessing our 10 year old cancer warrior proudly work alongside his new friend Ava to unload these boxes was a moment that will forever be engrained in our hearts.

Unfortunately, going onto the oncology floor is not an option, especially through flu season. Lucky for Ava, the social worker who was helping us to deliver the happy crates shared that she wanted to bring a little warrior down to collect their surprise. As you can imagine, being able to see the joy on the face of the recipient made the moment that much more special. To see a little touch of the bigger picture, and the joy that these Happy Crates bring for these courageous kids was a treasure!

We are so thankful for Ava and her huge heart. She, her family, her friends and everyone else who supported her mission helped to share 45 crates for kids fighting cancer. Our dream is to send Happy Crates to children fighting cancer in all children’s hospitals throughout the United States, every month of the year! Our work will not be done until the day that our kids have a cure!

On a more personal note, there are many challenges and a whole lot of heartache in walking this childhood cancer journey as a family. Moments like this and special people like Ava bring us, and many others on this journey, enormous amounts of JOY, LIGHT, and SMILES. For us, moments like these are everything.  God is so good!!

In closing, if you’re interested in more information on how you, your company, team, church, school, or group, can be part of our “Share A SMILE” program, please reach out to us at happycratesgives@gmail.com. Visit us online anytime at http://Www.HappyCratesGives.org

“Together, we create SMILES!”

Kindly,

The Happy Crates Family

Blessed to Bless Others-Our Childhood Cancer story

Our families journey with childhood cancer, and SMILES set to reach from coast to coast!

When we began our journey in the childhood cancer world, just over 10 years ago, it was hard to find the silver lining. Darren was just 8 weeks old, and for us, our child's "everyday normal life" wasn't ripped away. The only thing he knew was eating, sleeping, and pooping! However, for the older kids on the unit, normal was ripped away in an instant. We watched the devastating effects that this journey can have on a child, and their families, first hand. It was heart wrenching. Nothing feels like home, they can't spend time with friends, and for some, this is where they'll spend most of their time getting treatments, and battling through all of the hurdles that cancer brings a child and their family.

Through our own journey, it's always brought joy to our hearts to be able to make others SMILE! We dabbled in project after project to make that happen. Whatever God laid on my heart, I tackled, even when others looked at me like I was crazy for trying to reach such big goals. You know what?? EVERY TIME we did a project, it was fulfilled 100% and then some! From our community coming together to help us raise $15,000 for a custom indoor play home to be installed at A.I.duPont Hospital's future oncology clinic, to equipping 24 inpatient rooms with x-box game consoles on the oncology floor. It always came together, and our community always helped us make it happen. People are good, people are kind, and all it took was me following through with the crazy things that He laid on my heart to realize, anything was possible. It was a lot of work, but the end result of a SMILE always made it worth while, times a million.

This holiday season, we are SO so excited to announce the arrival of the newest addition to our family, "Happy Crates Gives"!  Our non-profit will not only give us the ability to reach our local community of courageous children, but will help us spread SMILES to children fighting cancer from the east coast, ALL the way to the west coast!!!! The purpose of Happy Crates Gives is to have a positive impact on the lives of children fighting cancer and their families. Our hope is to one day be sending Happy Crates to every children's hospital in the U.S. EVERY month, and we know that it's possible with the help of generous sponsors! Our fund also gives us the ability to host fun events, and make more spaces and moments that feel like home for these children and their families!

Please help us spread the word about Happy Crates Gives so that we can reach far and wide, because together, we can make a difference! To donate, please visit https://www.happycratesgives.org/donate/ . We've set a HUGE goal of raising $50,000 in December, which will allow us to reach over 30 Children's hospitals across the U.S., and close to 2,000 children!!!

We are SUPER excited about our 1st Annual "Miles of SMILES Holiday Lights Contest" through Queen Anne's County!! If you're a resident of QAC, or have a business in QAC, we would love for you to sign up and join the fun! We hope to bring SMILES to folks young and old, as they drive through our beautiful county touring the lights, and voting for the best ones! Please help us spread the word, and encourage your family and friends to sign up for the competition before December 10th! All proceeds benefit our mission, and we have mega prize baskets up for grabs!

If you enjoy crazy adventures, be sure to hit the subscribe to keep up with us! This seems like my craziest idea yet, but I have a feeling it's going to be pretty awesome 🙂 Thank YOU for being a part of our families journey, and we can't wait to share the next chapter!

 

Kindly,

Lauren

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Darren’s special invitation for Andy Grammer!

Posted on Darren’s fb page Darren’s Pack on July 12th 2019:


We have an invite for Andy Grammer that we need YOUR help with…….

Catching Darren in this stance made my heart light up!!! 😍 I got a ukulele for my birthday, and this boy is so attached to it already!! Every morning, the 1st thing he asks is if we can go play the ukulele, or in his words “you-ka-Larry” or simply “Luke” for short! Music is great therapy, and he literally thrives off of it!

As we saw this image of him tonight, we wanted to freeze it in time, and capture the true warrior that this boy is as he’s kicking cancers BUTT for the 3rd time! My husband commented that Darren “looks like he’s waiting for Andy Grammer to come play “Luke’s” with him in his market” in this shot, and we both laughed! Then I got a crazy idea…..

We know that if there is any kid who can convince someone, it’s this boy!!! So what do you say…..who’s in for helping us invite @Andy Grammer to Darren’s Market to play some tunes with him?!?!?! Being 100% serious!! Maybe like, if we get 100k shares on this post, Andy will head to the East Coast to hang with us? Yeah???! Darren celebrates his 10th birthday in August, and will celebrate his 10th year of kicking cancers butt in October!! 💪

Help us by hitting share on this post, and be sure to tag Andy Grammer to let him know that Darren’s waiting patiently!! Tell everyone you know to do the same!! Many hands make light work, isn’t that how it goes?! 🤣 This kid would loose his cool 😎 if Andy rolled through the front door of his market!

Get to sharing, and always support childhood cancer research so that our boy can one day be a CANCER FREE back up singer/dancer for Andy!! 💕

So proud of this kid…..he’s literally never known a life other than the one of kicking cancers butt (diagnosed at 8 weeks) but his courage, his personality, his ability to reach others in such a special way, his love that is so deep for everyone, and his love for the Lord never ceases to amaze me!! I stand in awe of what God has done through our boy, and continues to do through him every single day! So blessed that I get to witness it for myself, and give Him all of the glory, and all of my praises!!

Thank you all for your love and support! You make this journey easier to walk, and we feel all of the love! ❤️The Leonard’s

Shout out to Lilliput Play Homes for such an incredible play home that we have enjoyed for 5 years now, all thanks to Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic Make-A-Wish America!!