Unique talent brings smiles to hospital visitors

Published: Jan. 28, 2020 at 6:48 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A parking lot attendant at the children’s hospital of Richmond at VCU is doing more than just validating tickets and taking payment.

Christine Stith used a skill she learned as a little girl in South Korea by giving families a bit of hope during some of their darkest days.

From the outside looking in, the parking lot where she works is pretty standard.

“I was sitting here doing nothing and I said I might as well do something,” Stith said.

But if you look closer, it’s more like a zoo, and Stith is keeping a watchful eye over all the animals.

“I have cranes, puppy dogs, butterflies, elephants, rabbits and giraffes,” Stith said.

In a cramped, toll booth sized space, Christine spends hours making origami for patients and their families leaving the VCU children’s hospital.

“She loves everybody and she wants everybody leaving here to be better than they came in,” Anthony Kizzie, Christine’s manager, said.

Lawrencia Scurlock, a parent with a child at the hospital, keeps the origami regardless of the condition they’re in.

“They’re kind of get a little crushed but I keep them, I love those," Scurlock said.

One day, Christine saw a mother in tears, leaving the hospital parking lot.

As a sign of solidarity, she gave this mother a perfectly folded symbol of compassion, her origami, and in the midst of such a difficult time, that parent found a bit of peace.

“If it makes their day it just feels so good, when you see a big ole smile, especially with some of the children that are very ill and they just perk up real quick.”

Stith makes about a thousand origami a week.

Kate Lainhart remembers the first time her kids received the origami.

“One time she gave us this really cute snake that had little eyes on it. What a thankless job, and it was really sweet and a moment of kindness," Lainhart said.

“Christine has actually become somewhat of a social media hero. I know her husband and he shared with me some of the media posts, and I was blown away by these little origami figures and who has that talent," Dunn said.

Christine was overjoyed to receive NBC12′s Acts of Kindness award but behind that smile, she’s quietly suffering.

An accident at home cut the blood flow to her leg. After being misdiagnosed at the hospital - most days she goes home with swelling the size of a softball.

“It’s just like having a dead foot it’s just flapping there. I have complex regional pain syndrome," Stith said. "I can’t move my foot or my toes, so I have to wear a brace to walk, it is painful but I don’t think about it when I’m making origami and making people happy.”

“I think I just like to look at them sometimes. Sometimes you just open it up in your car and you remember where you got it, and it makes me smile a little bit,” Lawrencia Spurlock said.

Proof that kindness really is the best medicine.

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