Samuel’s Trees is a non-profit charity organization centered around encouraging and loving babies and families in the Neo-Natal Intensive Critical Care Units of surrounding hospitals. In 2012 we began giving three-foot artificial Christmas trees filled with $300 worth of gift cards and notes of love to a family at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. By 2018, we have given over 350 families Christmas trees in six different hospital NICU’s.
Samuel’s Trees founders, Daniel and Kelly Parkins, lost their son Samuel on December 24th, 2010 due to Congenial Diaphragmatic Hernia complications. During their time spent at CHLA, a group of strangers gave a similar tree to the Parkins while they were there and helped change their lives. Now, each year we have multiplied this effort and now reach into hundreds of lives.
The Parkins’ Story
In 2019 our sites have been set on something that perhaps many will balk at; entering in to the lives of every single family with a baby in a level IV NICU during the holiday season in Los Angeles and Orange County. Though we are estimating this total to be many more than we currently did in 2018, we are confident that with the help of others, and new programs in place, we can reach this goal.
This is a powerful organization that truly gives love and light amidst the holidays when NICU families, though in impeccable care, are experiencing some of the darkest times. Please partner with us financially on a monthly basis and consider doing it today.
The Grace of God has given me a different perspective than some throughout the course of my life. Before my third liver transplant, Kelly told me she was pregnant with our first child, and though I did not know I was sick at the time of finding out, only three days later I was told I would need a third liver transplant; something very rare and hard to receive. I prayed so fervently that God would provide Kelly a good husband and my son to be a wonderful father, yet though I was convinced of my own death, I was able to receive my third liver and continue celebrating life.
Fast forward six years and another daughter later, and we find we are pregnant with our third child. Going into the twenty-week visit without a care or concern in the world, we were told that Samuel’s heart was in the wrong place, that he most likely had a birth defect known as congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and that we needed to consider other options of termination. This of course was out of the question for us, and as we moved closer to the delivery date of December in 2010, we prayed with all our might that this was a slight case and one that didn’t require all of the horrendous issues associated with the birth defect.
On December 5th, 2010, rushing out to Hollywood Presbyterian next door to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Kelly delivered Samuel to a waiting staff of incredible nurses and doctors. We never heard him cry as he was intubated immediately. Over the course of the next nineteen days, we fought against every fear, enlisted the prayers of thousands, and believed without a doubt our son would be fine and that some day he would be home playing with the rest of our family. Samuel never made it home and went to heaven on December 24th, 2010. Christmas Eve.
During our time at Children’s, a group of strangers that we never met and didn’t know gave us a small three foot Christmas tree filled with powerful notes of love and hundreds of dollars of gift cards. After Samuel passed away, I remember looking in our garage later in the summer of 2011 and seeing that tree. It was bare, but as I looked at that tree I wept and remembered a deep love manifested through strangers. Though Christmas of 2011 was too difficult for us, Christmas of 2012 gave us another opportunity to return to the hospital and give our own tree to a needy family. Over the course of the next five years, Kelly and I, with the help of hundreds of generous friends, businesses, and schools have been able to give many trees filled with $300 worth of gift cards to families in the NICU. Last year we covered the entire floor of Children’s Hospital LA as well as Torrance Memorial Hospital and many trees up in San Francisco.
Every year we have done this, we’ve seen the massive impact of strangers giving trees to strangers with no strings attached. We have met so many families first hand, have held the babies who were strong enough to be held, and have shed many tears with hurting hearts. We have noticed that this often-neglected area in our community is bleeding, and we want to do something about that. That’s where Samuel’s Trees enters in.
Now, though we will continue to do trees during the holiday season, we seek to give first time mothers bouquets of love and gift cards to remind them they are not alone on Mother’s Day. Each month we want to be literally in the hospitals in the lives of families as mentors, as well as develop greater partnerships with businesses and schools. And finally, we hope to develop a program that celebrates life and the courage of mothers who continue with the pregnancies even when all hope seems to be lost. Join us as we enter in to the darkest places most parents will ever face with love, encouragement, and the truth that they are not alone.
The Parkins Family