This 11-year-old girl may not be a magical genie, but she is winning hearts for her magical mission of granting wishes to nursing home patients.
Ruby Kate Chitsey first became inspired to help elderly residents after she spent last summer helping her mother Amanda with her work.
Amanda runs a business in which she assists dozens of patients at five different nursing facilities across Harrison, Arkansas. When Ruby Kate was visiting one of these nursing homes over the weekend, she noticed one of the residents gazing forlornly out the window.
The youngster was confused, however, when the only thing outside of the window was someone walking a dog out to a car.
“I asked Pearl, ‘What’s so important?’ She told me that it was her dog of 12 years, and she didn’t know the next time she would see it,” said Ruby Kate. “Pearl’s face was so sad. I thought that of all the things in this world Pearl could have, she would probably just ask for more visits with her dog.”
Pearl was unable to see her dog because she couldn’t afford to care for her on her own. Since half of US nursing homes are funded by the government, patients are only given about $40 to spend on “extra” comforts outside of room and board. This means that hundreds of residents only have $40 to spend on simple luxuries, such as haircuts, new pants – or dog food.
“I’m 11, and even I have enough money saved in my piggy bank to help Pearl get a few more visits with her dog,” says Ruby Kate.
The determined youngster then resolved to try and grant the wishes of more people there, so she grabbed her notebook and started knocking on the door of each resident’s room. She then asked them: “If you could have three wishes, what would they be?”
Some residents simply wished for a new pair of fitted pants; others dreamily expressed their longing for fast food; one woman even said that she wished she could go to a water park to watch families having fun.
“It was a great experience for everyone,” said Ruby’s mom. “You expect people to tell you they want a million dollars or a new car, but they don’t. They want snacks or a pair of pants that fits.”
Ruby Kate then launched her Three Wishes project to raise money for the patients’ wishes. Her mother helped her to set up a GoFundMe and Amazon wishlist for the project – and since they created the pages in November, the crowdfunding campaign has raised over $26,000.
The donations have helped to buy clothing, corrective hearing devices, food, shoes, and the most commonly requested item amongst the residents: pet food.
“The response so far has been amazing,” says her mom. “There are a lot of fundraisers for everything, but not so much for the elderly. It’s been refreshing to see attention shine on this group.”