A really good day at The Children’s Home

At 8:55 a.m. yesterday, April 24, I stood at the entrance of The Children’s Home with my friends from the Mario Lemieux Foundation and Microsoft, and watched as the caravan pulled in with SUVs full of $20,000 in technology upgrades designed to give both the patients and their families a few distractions from life-threatening illnesses.


Luke Sossi, who spearheads the regional MR4K fundraising efforts at Microsoft, pulled in at exactly 9:00 a.m. looking SUPER HAPPY FUN TIMES READY!


Terrible white balance on my part. Still figuring out this photography biznass.

Time to unload!




Printers and laptops:


Let’s get organized!



This is from my phone, because I forgot to take a picture of all the stuff with my good camera.  That’s not even all of it. That’s just some of it.

2013-04-24 09.10.47

Instructions from Luke before teams break up to head to various parts of the home and family center to start the installs:


Right there, Luke is saying, “Keep an eye on Ginny. She steals things.”


Everything is planned out before we ever step foot in the Home for installs. Luke and his people are amazing at coordinating everything so that they can move in and out of patient rooms in five minutes flat. XBOX mounts are purchased and sent ahead of time so that maintenance can get them up before we arrive.

I don’t know what’s in there but it better shoot confetti and glitter at me and tell me I’m beautiful when I open it:


We’ve also got some of these to allow for Skype-ing at various places throughout the home.


And they’re off:


We even put XBOXes in the infant rooms which house the most critical babies in the city. Why put XBOXes in rooms with tiny patients who can’t use them? Because this way their siblings and parents have a way to pass some time! I spent a bit of time with this little girl as they installed one in her room.


She was like, “What is that even? I’m trying to watch Sprout here.” She was Mckayla Maroney-unimpressed with my attempts to make her smile.

But her family is REALLY going to appreciate the new XBOX in the room.

We didn’t stop at XBOXes. We also bought four In-One desktop computers that were installed throughout the home, along with customized home screens that Microsoft designed to include easy access to various apps the patients and families might use.





Hi, Nancy (Mario Lemieux Foundation executive director) and Pam (Children’s Home CEO)!


We didn’t stop at XBOXes and desktops, we also purchased FIVE flat screen TVs. Yes. FIVE. They are scattered through the home where they were needed, with this one in the Child’s Way special-needs daycare being the largest at 55-inches.


That unit has an XBOX and Kinect so the kids that spend the day there can get some movement going.

I got to test out the Skype capabilities that are now available on the three Skype units, the four desktops and the six Ideapads.


Nobody puts me in a corner, Skype.

The great thing about the Skype capabilities is that not only can patients and their families keep in touch with their relatives from out of town, but what we’ve essentially done is give the doctors and nurses telemedicine capabilities! Patients can confer with their doctors over Skype, rather than having to leave the home for a face-to-face visit every time. The nurses can also use it to confer with off-site doctors regarding patient treatment.

That is freaking awesome, you guys. Look how we made things better for them! Pulled them out of the dark ages and just made things BETTER and EASIER and MORE COWBELL-Y.

We didn’t stop at XBOXes and desktops and TVs and Skype units. We also donated six Lenovo Yoga IdeaPad combos! Remember, before yesterday all of the families were sharing ONE old laptop.


These things rock because of their ability to flip into tablets:


Where’d the keyboard go? [swishes cape] Magic! [jazz hands]

Jazz hands are in magic shows, right?

That picture gives you a good look at the customized home screen Microsoft put on every laptop and desktop unit.

I tried one out:



I pwnd that game.

Circle gets the square.

[throws signs]

And finally, games and movies by the crap ton. THE. CRAP. TON.




Crap ton. Since I was the one responsible for which movies were donated, you know there’s some Goonies, Princess Bride, Napoleon Dynamite, Anne of Green Gables, and Pride and Prejudice in there.

It was a great day. So great. I wanted to squeeze all the babies, but I think that’s frowned upon.  :(

I spent most of my time on the third floor, where the babies are. Because, babies. Poor little sick babies. You talk to them and they can’t take their eyes off of you for one second. You tell them mom and dad will be back and they coo at you all, “You better be serious, lady, because you are a stranger to me.”

Babies don’t take crap from anyone.

The family center is more private, as families live there, so I didn’t intrude to take pictures there.  But trust me that parents are thrilled with the donations for the patients, their siblings, and themselves.

Huge thanks go to the Microsoft employees for their donations and to Microsoft corporate for matching them. Also, to the Mario Lemieux Foundation for nurturing this program the way they have under Austin’s Playroom Project … putting their time into it and their name behind it. And thank you to YOU. To each of you who donated or tweeted or shared on Facebook what we were trying to do. To everyone who purchased a Scarehouse Shake at Burgatory last October. All of you. It’s a team effort and you’re part of that team. Someday a child you know may be admitted to The Children’s Home and you’ll see the stickers on the XBOXes and laptops and know that you had a part in alleviating some of the stress that goes along with being sick or having a sick child.

[high five]

Since Make Room for Kids was born, we’ve taken care of the oncology kids, the transplant kids, the “Frequent-fliers,”  the entire pediatric unit at AGH, and now, every patient and family at The Children’s Home and Lemieux Family Center.  That’s amazing.

Next week we’ll be visiting Children’s Hospital to update their Live subscriptions, do maintenance, and drop off some new games and controllers for the kids. I’ll be sure to share some pictures from that.

I can’t thank you guys enough for your generosity.

Also, this is the only thing I stole from Luke:

You covet it madly, don’t you? 

Group hug!


Media coverage:





  1. Noelle
    April 25, 2013 12:42 pm

    You are so good at donor relations! You make me want to give again and again. :)

  2. Luke
    April 25, 2013 1:08 pm

    Ginny – I just wanted to thank you and all of your readers for making this day possible. Pittsburghers are amazing people!!

  3. bluzdude
    April 25, 2013 3:17 pm

    Reading this makes me all tingly! Well, it’s either this or my cell phone is going off.

  4. Jim W
    April 25, 2013 5:00 pm

    big smiles HERE.

  5. Ginny's Mom
    April 25, 2013 6:32 pm

    Ginny, Your readers are a group of amazing people. Look what you and they have done in a few short years. I applaud them……..and you.

  6. "Margaret"
    April 26, 2013 12:06 am

    You’re a rock star!!

  7. mamabear
    April 26, 2013 9:11 am

    That little baby? I could eat.her.up.

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