It started as a simple idea.
The result was an act of kindness that reverberated throughout every floor at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center.
“Stella has touched the hearts of our caregivers and leaders,” said Dawn Soto, the executive director of St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation. “It is a beautiful story, and she continues to inspire all of us.”
That inspirational girl is Stella Rojas, an 8-year-old third-grader at Pinecrest Elementary School in Twin Falls.
Stella’s mom, Katie Huntley, said that Stella enjoys watching YouTube videos about people who have made gestures of giving back to others.
One day, Stella said to her mom: “I wish I could do that.”
Then, that's exactly what she did.
“My husband and I said, ‘If you’re serious about it, then we have to do it,’” Huntley said. “I just thought it was very sweet that she had this idea.”
Stella agreed to take some of the money that would have gone toward her Christmas presents and use it for gift cards from local shops in Twin Falls. She also wrote a touching thank-you note in a Christmas card, complete with an illustration of a hospital scene.
That card was intended for the nurses, doctors and other caregivers at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center.
“It’s because they deserve it for being heroes and saving people’s lives,” Stella said. “They’ve done a lot for us, and I just want them to get the respect they deserve.”
With Stella’s donations in hand, Mario Rojas reached out to the Twin Falls hospital.
“When Stella’s father first called in someone told him to just drop them off,” said Terry Rowe, the development officer for St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation. “But then someone else got a phone number for him, so I called him and introduced myself. That’s when he told me … (Stella) had heard so much about COVID and people being sick, so she wanted to do this.”
Stella’s gift card donations – and her note of thanks – made the rounds on the Treat Trolley, which brings treats and a little bit of cheer to all the caregivers on the different floors at St. Luke’s Magic Valley.
“Everyone got to read the note from Stella on the Treat Trolley,” Rowe said. “That caused a snowball effect, and everybody wanted to write to Stella. … It really caused emotions to run very high.
“So we sent some cards to her, and we have St. Luke’s teddy bears here, so it was kind of a no-brainer to send her one of those teddy bears.”
Stella has been sleeping with the teddy bear every night since she received it.
“She also has her thank-you cards from St. Luke’s all over her bedroom right now,” Huntley said.
Rowe said she was inspired to see how Stella’s act of kindness led to other acts of kindness.
“The interesting thing about this … is how it went from one person to the next, and then another person heard about it and it just kept going,” Rowe said.
In the end, Huntley said her daughter learned an invaluable lesson this past holiday season.“I’m just happy that she has learned that giving is good,” Huntley said.
Chris Langrill is a writer and copy editor for the St. Luke’s Communications and Marketing department.