Our History

“My firsthand experience of being confined to a room while receiving testing is why our focus is to make sure the patients, who are confined to their rooms/beds, can be entertained as well!” —Ike – Cardz for Kidz founder

Cardz for Kidz is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that hand delivers hope and love by card to sick and recovering children, elderly, and traumatized patients across the US and increasingly more overseas. It is our mission and purpose to be there to provide emotional comfort via handwritten cards for every child and elderly patient who is open to receiving it. Cardz for Kidz is a donation-based organization that is able to spread love and healing solely through donations both financially and via handwritten cards. 

After surgery in 2005

Our founder, Ike Nwankwo, launched the first Cardz for Kidz event in 2010, but his connection with kids started well before that. His volunteering journey began when he was just 12, working the “Hospitality Cart” at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI.  He went bedside to bedside providing families of patients with snacks while they visited with loved ones. Connecting with patients and families during that summer sparked his passion for working with sick and recovering patients, especially pediatric patients. He continued volunteering at this hospital throughout high school and college, holding different positions and roles.

Picture before surgery in 2005Nearly a decade later, on July 12, 2004, he experienced his first trip to the emergency room as a patient and not as a volunteer. In 2005, he underwent brain surgery at the University of Michigan Hospital due to his bout with epilepsy (UM Medical Center blog post). As a patient, he began to understand the impact that being restricted to one’s hospital bed has on a patient and their family. Couple that experience with his 20+ years ofvolunteering and working at pediatric hospitals alongside the staff, patients, and families—it was time to do more.

Thank you letter from Berrendo Middle School, Roswell, New Mexico

In 2010, Ike launched some of the first Cardz for Kidz events where he had children from church work with young adults in Chicago to make handmade cards for patients at the hospital he volunteered at, currently known as Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. After a couple of successful events with the children, he took the idea to his coworkers and asked them to do the same. At the time, Ike was solely focused on delivering cards to pediatric patients, but that soon changed based on his direct connections to families impacted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In 2012, we expanded our target to include hospitalized and/or traumatized children.

A senior we donated a card to via Lifetime Wellness

Increased interest from other companies and universities inspired Cardz for Kidz to expand their connections in order to turn Cardz for Kidz, NFP into a 501(c)(3) certified non-profit in 2014. Thanks to that certification, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing, the organization began to grow. For example, thanks to your contributions, Cardz for Kidz was able to collect and distribute over 3,500 handmade cards to seniors who were stranded in their residences due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. With your continued support, many more will be reached.

What We’re Doing Today

Donation of a portable video game systemFundraisers and increased donations have allowed us to expand our reach and evolve how we impact the lives of patients and their families. Ike’s firsthand experience of being confined to a room while receiving testing is why our focus is to make sure the patients, who are confined to their rooms and beds, can be entertained as well! That is why, to this day, we make sure that all of our partners promise to deliver our handmade cards room-to-room. We’ve also recently begun donating portable video game systems to several of our partners, which has been a raving success!

Donation of a portable video game systemAs always, we will continue to strive to partner with small to midsize hospitals and/or organizations that may get overlooked by other nonprofits—#TooSmallNoSuchThing. We currently have partnerships in all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia), as well as at least one hospital/home on each continent. What originally started off as sending cards to pediatric patients, has now grown into reaching all types of people who could use encouragement, ranging from families in Ronald McDonald House Charities across the globe to veterans in VA Hospitals. Thanks to our volunteers and donors, our ability to impact our partners will continue to grow.

Goal

Impact as many children, seniors and families as possible and help them take their minds off their current situation by reminding them they truly are special.

Current Recipients