As a scared 4-year-old about to receive her second cochlear implant to help her hear, Morgan Keely was delighted and surprised to receive a basket of toys that had been donated to the hospital by a local corporation.
“I loved it so much that I asked my mom if I could do the same thing,” she says.
Morgan, who was born deaf, has endured numerous surgeries and extensive therapy to be able to hear and speak. Now – as a dynamic 9-year-old whose favorite subjects at school are “gymnastics, violin, spelling, writing, math and science!” – she’s giving back to other kids who need a little extra support.
So far, Morgan and her mom, Jayne Frank, have loaded almost 600 sand buckets full of playthings and sent them to children awaiting surgery at local hospitals. The buckets come with coloring books, crayons, bubble bottles and Woofis — stuffed, brown-and-white, floppy-eared puppies.
Woofi is a central part of the gift because Morgan always brought the puppy — sold by Because We Care Ministries — to her own surgeries.
“I like him because under his ears, it says ‘Jesus Loves You,’” she says. For every puppy Morgan buys from the nonprofit, it gives her one free.
Morgan, who lives in a Philadelphia suburb, raises the rest of the funds necessary to fill the buckets by baking and selling brownies and pies, and by accepting donations of books, crayons and bubbles.
Morgan and Frank wait until they have enough materials to fill 30 buckets – about $560 – and then drop them off at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They occasionally ship individual buckets across the country in response to requests, or personally deliver buckets to older teens at other area hospitals.
“Most of the buckets don’t go to deaf children,” says Frank, “but to other children we learn about. There was a 17-year-old boy who had a stroke and was at MossRehab in Philadelphia, for example. Now, he takes Woofi with him to his physical therapy sessions.”
Morgan treasures her ability to bring comfort to young people in need.
“It makes my heart feel really, really happy,” she says. “I wish I could give a bucket to every child in the hospital.”