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    “Victory was worried about missing her Valentine’s Day party at school,” her mother said from a window seat that overlooked East Chestnut Street. “But it looks like she’ll have more valentines than her twin brother,” she continued with a smile. When we left the room, Victory was already sorting through the bag of valentines at the foot her child-sized hospital bed—separating the pink ones from the purple ones, and the lace ones from the shiny ones.

    Victory wasn’t the only child at Kosair Children’s Hospital to wake up to a bag of valentines. Thanks to Louisville’s 102.3 The Max, over 150,000 cards made their way to the hospital.  

    150,000 is a rough estimate. Taken before additional boxes were delivered to the hospital this morning— including an 8:45 delivery made by a set of three ambulances piled full with cards, stuffed animals, and packages of candy.

    Lynda Lambert, George Lindsey, and Jesse Rasmussen, the hosts of the Lambert and Lindsey Morning Show, had put out a call on-air a little over two weeks ago for valentines—with drop-off locations at the station, Ashley Furniture and Home Store, The Flooring Gallery, Rasmussen Chiropractic, and Genesis Diamonds— as part of a collection they were calling “Cupid’s Kids.”

    And Louisvillians really listened and helped spread the love this Valentine’s Day.

    “This is the first year we’ve done this, and the response was overwhelming,” Jesse Rasmussen said, after posing for a picture with “The Ghost Busters” who had taken a break from apprehending ghosts this morning to help deliver valentines.

    “The boxes of cards just kept coming and coming. I’ve seriously had a tiny path to my desk, and a view of just boxes for the past week; and it has been awesome,” he continued.

    Jim Allen of Genesis Diamonds sidestepped as a parade of cherry-red Radio Flyer wagons, each overflowing with bags of brightly colored valentines, were wheeled through the hospital lobby. “It was so amazing watching the community come together. You would be shocked by the amount of families with kids who came into our store on snow-days with 50 to 100 valentines, often homemade. They’d take their snow days and make cards as a family.”

    The entire community got involved in the Cupid’s Kids collection. “You had everyone from police officers to elementary schoolers sending in cards; people of all ages. It was so heartwarming to see such well-done and thoughtful work,” Matt Finn, intern with 102.3 The Max, said.

     “Local businesses really stepped up as well. You even had children at St. Jude’s and numerous elder-homes making valentines for the kids.”

    Once the valentines were sorted in a bustling backroom adjacent to the hospital lobby, groups of volunteers were equipped with wagons of valentines and red roses for the nurses. They then boarded the elevators, ready for delivery.

    Kosair Volunteer Heidi Bennett led a group down the surgical floor, softly knocking on each door to awaken parents and patients. It was early —many of the children still groggy, dressed in pajamas and hospital gowns—but there was a sort of warmth that could be felt through the halls. And it kept growing as more and more children were visited. 

    Some children padded across the room in their slippers to say “hello.” Some immediately broke into “Who ya gonna call?” while reaching out to touch the paranormal equipment held by the Ghost Busters.  Some posed for photos with handfuls of valentines, spreading them out like fans.

    While others just held the clear sack of valentines to their hospital gowns, glowing.

    And thanks to the success of Cupid’s Kids, many other children are going to have that same experience. Due to the exorbitant amount of cards collected, deliveries are being made later today to Home of the Innocents, Our Lady of Peace and Uspiritus—to name just a few.

    On a day where love is celebrated, the love in our city was truly evident. There was love poured into organizing and executing this collection, the love shown by the numerous volunteers and hospital staff in preparing for today, and the love reflected in the faces of the patients and parents.  But there was also the enormous outpouring from the Louisville community in caring for these children—and it’s moments like that which show what love truly is.

    Happy Valentine’s Day from!

    Photography courtesy of The Lambert and Lindsey Morning Show and Kosair Children's Hospital

    Patient names have been changed to ensure patient privacy.

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    Ashlie Danielle Stevens's picture

    About Ashlie Danielle Stevens

    I am a freelance food, arts and culture writer. Among other publications, my work has appeared at The Atlantic’s CityLab, Eater, Slate, Salon, The Guardian, Hyperallergic and National Geographic’s food blog, The Plate.

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