The gift of hope: Young girl’s hospital generosity helps patients smile

Joah Royer (left) and her mom Sonia Royer pose together. Along with the help of Joah's grandmother, the team makes up Joah's Pink Bags of Hope, which delivers gift bags to hospital patients in South Dakota.

Joah Royer (left) and her mom Sonia Royer pose together. Along with the help of Joah’s grandmother, the team makes up Joah’s Pink Bags of Hope, which delivers gift bags to hospital patients in South Dakota.

When Joah Royer saw her chance to make the world a better place, she decided to fund her idea like any other 11-year-old – with saved-up Tooth Fairy money.

There was just one problem.

“It got to the point where she didn’t have any more teeth to lose,” says Sonia Royer, Joah’s mom.

Thankfully, Joah’s Pink Bags of Hope was a project folks were eager to get behind. It didn’t take long for donations to start rolling in.

Thanks to donations like Basin Electric’s recent pledge of $1,000, the now 12-year-old’s dream is a reality.

It all started when Joah’s grandparents were both in the hospital, battling cancer.

“I started to make gift bags for my grandma and grandpa when they were doing chemo,” Joah says. “When I was waiting in the waiting room to go see them, there were a lot of other people that didn’t look like they had family members there, so I decided to make gift bags for them.”

What was first thought of as a momentary hobby quickly became so much more. Joah’s Pink Bags of Hope gave hospital patients and their loved ones a reason to smile.

“I just thought it was a good thing to do,” she says. “I just like watching people get my gift bags, and making their day.”

Along with thank you cards, like the ones above, Joah often receives donations from the people she delivers to. They strongly believe in her cause.

Along with thank you cards, like the ones above, Joah often receives donations from the people she delivers to. They strongly believe in her cause.

Requests for gift bags often reach Joah by word of mouth. She also gets the occasional phone call when hospitals run out of inventory. She does everything she can to tailor each bag to its owner.

If she doesn’t know who will receive a particular bag, she keeps it simple. Chap Stick, hand sanitizers and tissues are amenities many use – and appreciate. This week’s shopping list: stress balls.

After she uses donations to purchase gift items for their intended recipients, Joah teams up with her mom and grandma to organize and deliver. Bags are filled and decorated at home, then loaded into a car or pick-up truck to be delivered to a hospital.

Joah, who lives in Fort Pierre, SD, delivers to hospitals all around the state. She’s mostly visited her hometown hospital, as well as facilities in Rapid City and Fort Meade. Sioux Falls is next on the list.

Whenever she can, Joah likes to deliver the bags in person. Needless to say, she makes friends easily.

“I like meeting the people because they’re really nice,” she says.

Joah Royer pays a visit to Kenny Volmer.

Joah Royer pays a visit to Kenny Volmer.

Along with requests for other recipients, people often send thank you cards to Joah.

“Sometimes they even send donations back,” she says.

There’s no doubt this girl is helping people, and her mom couldn’t be more proud.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” says Sonia, who also helps Joah manage the group’s Facebook page.

It’s a journey Joah never wants to end. She continues to spread hope, one bag at a time.

“I want to do it for a while,” she says.

To learn more about Joah’s Pink Bags of Hope, visit her Facebook page or email soniamroyer@gmail.com.

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