June 21, 2018
Maybe the children (and books) will save us after all?
by Susan Rella
Wow, what a week. What a month. What a year. What an eighteen months. We’re tired, you’re tired, and every single thing is on fire and babies are being ripped from their parents and placed in Orwellian tender-age tent cities and we’re apparently too good for the United Nations Human Rights Council and it’s somehow only Thursday?
Take a seat, take a shot, and relax with this surprisingly heartwarming tale of the next generation, who understand the concept of paying it back, and provide us hope that they can, maybe, revive society, after everyone born prior to 1999 has been swallowed into the abyss.
Because kids like Alannah Pionessa exist.
As reported in multiple stories by Buffalo TV’s WIVB News 4, Pionessa, a pint-sized do-gooder from the nearby town of Alden, has donated a bevy of books and blankets to the Oishei Children’s Hospital NICU — where she spent eighty days as a preemie back in 2009. WIVB’s Katie Alexander doesn’t sugarcoat the ordeal: “She was born nearly nine weeks early with a rare birth defect and a grim prognosis: incompatible with life.” Her parents couldn’t touch their daughter, let alone hold her, for the first weeks of her life. Unable to physically bond with their newborn, they “comforted her with soft blankets, and they read to her constantly so she would learn their voices.”
Last year, for her eighth birthday, Alannah told her mother, Heather Rust, that she didn’t want presents — instead, she wanted to give to the children at the NICU what her parents had given her: soft new blankets, and books. “If I gave something back, I would feel good,” she told Alexander. And because this child has more humanity than our three branches of government combined, she decided to do the same thing this year. Thanks to Kelsey Anderson of WIVB, you can catch a video of Pionessa literally wheeling binfuls of book-blanket bundles into the hospital. She was hoping to donate 100 packages this year — an increase from her 2017 goal of seventy, per Angela Christoforos of WIVB.
The goal was achieved and, indeed, surpassed: ten days after her birthday, this pre-teen dropped off an incredible 132 bundles to the NICU.
Thanks, Alannah. And someone, please, get this incredible kid a gift certificate to her local independent bookstore, stat.
Susan Rella is the managing editor at Melville House, and a former bookseller.