Changing the world one random act of kindness at a time.


We all have our own coping mechanisms for facing our fears. For children and adults in hospitals, stuffed animals are often a multi-purpose coping tool for medical-related fears. Research shows that stuffed animals serve as a distraction from fears, as well as being a familiar face in an unfamiliar setting. Stuffed animals also help healthcare workers form a bond with the kids they treat.

One of those kids was Jarrett Vitiritto. Born premature at MercyOne Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, Jarrett spent his first weeks of life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). When he grew older, he enjoyed working on a Valentine’s Day service project at the hospital to help NICU mothers. Since then, Jarrett has yearned to help more patients again.

His next opportunity came on February 17, also known as Random Acts of Kindness Day. With the help of funding from Random Acts, Jarrett set off to gift stuffed animals to children on the pediatric floor of MercyOne Hospital.

3 nurses, Jared, and his girlfriend with stuffed animals and gowns piled in front of them

Jarrett delivering the stuffed animals and gowns to hospital staff.

Preparing for Delivery

Jarrett searched online for the “cutest, softest stuffed animals.” He found bears, bunnies, puppies, lions, and even teddy bears wearing “Get Well Soon” sweaters. Among his shopping haul, an extra tiny duck caused extra special laughter among the nurses when he later delivered the 32 stuffed animals.

When the individually wrapped plushies arrived, Jarrett added a “Random Act of Kindness” branded sticker to each one. The stickers read: “This gift is for you thanks to a microgrant from Random Acts awarded to GVU student Jarrett Vitiritto. Get Well Soon.”

As Random Acts of Kindness Day approached, Jarrett feared that the previous day’s snowstorm would prevent his delivery of the stuffed animals. Luckily, the roads cleared up of snow just in time for him to make the delivery.

A child hospital patient holding 2 stuffed animals, 1 in each hand

One of the patients receiving stuffed animals.

A Positive Impact at the Hospital and Beyond

Due to hospital rules, Jarrett was unable to meet the children in person. Instead, he met the hospital’s Director of Development and Events plus two Child Life Team nurses in the hospital lobby.

“The nurses loaded all the animals up in a little red wagon and wheeled it off to the children’s floor,” said Jarrett. “It was fun to see them so happy and thankful.”

In addition to stuffed animals for the kids, Jarrett also partnered with G’s Giving Gowns in New Jersey to gift 50 custom-made hospital gowns.

After his act of kindness, Jarrett posted photos of the delivery on social media. He was happy to see all the positive reactions to his act, especially one that mentioned how awesome it was to see kids helping kids.

“I’m inspired by the children who are fighters. I’m sure that every day brings new challenges for the kids sitting in the hospital, so I wanted to do something to brighten their day,” said Jarrett. “My Random Act was the perfect way to bring a smile to a sick child.”

Do you have an idea for an act of kindness that can help children in your community? Random Acts can help fund it! Submit a proposal here or reach out to your Regional Representative for more information.