Christmas 2016 and Santa Claus found he had some major competition at the Advocate Trinity Hospital in Illinois from a wonderful human being who went by the name of Jessie Tendayi.

The 54 year old woman, who has been working in the cafeteria of the hospital for 18 years, saved money from her salary over the course of the entire year to do something special for the children during Christmas. Cutting costs for herself, the Advocate Trinity Hospital food service aide saved more than $5000 ( > Rs 3.2 lakhs) in 2016 alone and ended up buying over 1300 toys, shopping for all of them herself!

The children, admitted with various ailments, were literally walking and being wheeled through the room filled with toys, staring incredulously at the array of options before choosing the ones they wanted.

Jessie Tendayi, who works in the cafeteria at Advocate Trinity Hospital, saved money throughout the year to buy 1000s of toys for sick children for Christmas

Jessie, who moved from Zimbabwe two decades ago, has actually been doing this for eight years starting from 2009, slowly increasing the number of toys every year by sacrificing her own needs for the sick children so that they would forget their pain.

"It's not about being rich. It's not about money. The little we have, we can share. 
For me, it's a blessing. I'm able to make a difference for the children. 
Children, they need somebody who cares about them. You want to 
make a difference to them. I felt in my heart I had to do something for the children."
- Jessie Tendayi

So what do the staff at Advocate Trinity Hospital have to say about Jessie? 

With the help of Cassie Richardson who is in charge of the hospital's Public Affairs division, I got in touch with quite a few members of the hospital she works in to get their views on Jessie. 

Everyone agrees - they just love the angel in their midst.

Why I want you to remember Jessie Tendayi

Jessie Tendayi is not rich. She works a hard job with monthly wages. Yet, she has been saving money from every pay-cheque she has ever received over the last 8 years, just to make sick children smile and be happy.

If that does not make her an angel on Earth, I don't know what does.

Jessie Tendayi, who works in the cafeteria at Advocate Trinity Hospital, saved money throughout the year to buy 1000s of toys for sick children for Christmas

This is part of my #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes: Shining Examples of Kindness and Compassion. You can find other real-life heroes here.


Parul said…
What a lovely story and sure she is an angel. Such a beautiful thought and gesture for ailing kids and to being a smile to their faces.
What I love the most about this series is that you are reaching out and interviewing the subject of your post (or people who know them); it adds such a dimension to your stories.
Rajlakshmi said…
The likes of Jessie reinstates my belief in humanity. She must have brightened up the days of so many kids. Beautiful post Doc.
shalz75 said…
What amazing selflessness to do such an incredibly heart warming thing! Loved her spirit!!!!

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Ls said…
Makes me feel so bad about not doing anything. She is an inspiration.
Modern Gypsy said…
She is such an inspiration! I'm so glad you did this series Roshan - slowly but surely I can feel my faith in humanity being restored. I think I'm sounding like a broken record, but it's true!
Anks said…
How amazing is that!!! Makes me feel so small in comparison.. at the same time, inspires me to do something too!
Me Otherwise said…
Awesome!!! She thought beyond herself... its indeed great when someone thinks about the community at large and not just individual and self.
Wow her selflessness is just so commendable and inspiring! Wonderful woman!
God Bless, Jessie!:)
God Bless, Jessie!:)
bellybytes said…
As a child I've been sick in hospital And i know how happy even a packet of biscuits makes a little one feel! Truly an angel
Geetika Gupta said…
Such wonderful people round the globe we have! She surely is an angel in her true sense!

Beautiful story with a lovely message- Anyone can contribute for others irrespective of their status or pay check.All you need is the desire.
Vinodini Iyer said…
What a kind soul! I can imagine the kind of joy Jesse must be spreading and also the contentment she gets out of the whole process.
Inspiring post and working towards great cause. Their work will bring milestone in unprivileged children
Thanks for sharing
Dr Bushra
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Kalpanaa M said…
Amazing woman. Her reward must be to see those happy children's smiling faces. Brilliant story.

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Ruchi Singh said…
What a lovely gesture and sacrifice! Salute!
Suzy said…
Selfless love - truly an angel. Thanks for sharing her story.

Suzy at Someday Somewhere - Journeys
Shalzzzz said…
Oh Roshan! What I love most about your posts is that you are reaching out to them, interviewing them and bringing these stories to us in the most genuine way possible. Kudos for the research and extra effort! <3
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Such a beautiful selfless soul! God bless her. :)
Neha said…
Celebrating the true spirit of Christmas! Just knowing about someone like this makes you want to be a better person.

Shilpa Garg said…
What a beautiful story of selflessness and compassion. She has proved that we all can do good, always!!
She truly is an angel and you are doing a divine job buddy by bringing these inspirational tales to us.
Soumya said…
$5000 over 8 years? She's an angel in disguise. I can imagine how happy the kids would have felt! 1300 toys is a huge number and just imagine having the patience to go buy them. This woman here is next to God.
Deepa said…
This is so sweet and u need a big heart to do something like this. Hats off to Jessie.
Whatever little bit you do for kids, their joy and happiness gives you back 10 times more!
That place looks more like a toy store and less like a hospital ward!
Jessie is an angel!
Happy AtoZing!
Chicky @
5000 dollars is just for 2016.
Indian Quotes said…
Great efforts. Reminds me of how less money is often in the hands of those who could do more.
Liz said…
Oh, what a lovely story! She is wonderful! We need more stories like this in the newspapers instead of all the horrible ones. Inspire people to be good instead of making badness the only newsworthy thing.
Liz said…
Oooh, forgot!
Menaka Bharathi said…
What a wonderful person Jessie is...An inspirational story of a women who has known the real spirit of Christmas

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*Menaka Bharathi *

Sanch Writes said…
Such a lovely lady! Nice to see such selfless acts
Anmol Rawat said…
Wow! She is an inspiration. $5000 in a single year! That's a lot of money. However, how she spent it makes it worth $50000.
You know what I have been feeling after reading your posts one after other? It's replacing the sad state of my mind with a something beautiful that I feel for all these heroes.
I'm saying again! Do publish a book out of it.
zainab said…
People who can think beyond themselves are truly real heroes! She sounds to be amazing!
foodietweeter said…
These are truly inapiring legends who do the best in their fields and set an example for others.
RICHA said…
Wow she is really inspiring sometimes we are so much into ourselves we forget to give back to the society , these people remind us that there are still some good people in our society and we must also contribute to see the change!!!

Really inspired!!!
Tina Basu said…
Her selflessness is just so commendable and inspiring! I didn't know all that about her.
Geethica Mehra said…
Some souls find their happiness in sharing with others while others are in the search of happiness always; no matter how rich they may be.
What an amazing woman and heart full of compassion and gift of giving. Hard-working Jessie who saves money from her own salary to get the children so much happiness. SALUTE!!
Nameesh N said…
Jessie Tendayi is such a great example that we can share with people. In the world everyone is greedy and thinking for themselves, what she has done is truely incredible and totally selfless. Hope to come across many more such people in this world.
A message of hope and love.Also savings .We can all try and do more.
Bushra said…
Indeed humanity don't stop by limitations. Inspiring work of jessie