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One strand of brightly colored lights instantly uplifted the spirits of 17-year-old Matsie and cheered up her hospital room. Matsie, like many others young and old with cancer, would be spending the holidays in the hospital. Her father’s thought to buy her a small strand of lights transformed her stark white hospital room into a colorful display. It brought her so much joy that she decided all patients in the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center this Christmas should receive lights to decorate their rooms. Matsie and her family began calling local businesses and members of the community, asking if they would be able to donate 100 strands of Christmas lights to Johns Hopkins. Matsie’s goal was to receive 20 strands of lights, but to her surprise, within just two days, they were able to get 100 donations.

Matsie didn’t stop at strings of lights. She and her friends hand-decorated 100 gift bags, each with a handwritten note. She also included a special winter craft for patients to make.

Matsie worked with Jenny Seilier, a Kimmel Cancer Center child life specialist, who had the holiday bags delivered to patient rooms throughout the pediatric oncology unit and the entire Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Patients have been so grateful for their special bags that it inspired them to start a social media community using #matsieslightsoflove, where they share photos of their brightly decorated hospital rooms. Matsie has created her own social media pages for her “lights of love,” including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, where patients and family members can share photos. She also has set up a giving fund, with all proceeds going toward future supplies for gift bags. The fund already has received more than $1,000.

“The best part about this has been seeing and hearing how much the strands mean to the patients,” says Matsie. “I have received some really amazing cards and feedback on social media. It makes me happy that this really is impacting patients more than I ever imagined. It also has been wonderful seeing how much people have been willing to help. The entire experience has been overwhelmingly positive for everyone involved.”

View Matsie’s giving page to learn more.

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