Change had been piling up in Aanya Naik’s piggy bank since she was four years old. Now 9, Aanya, whose first name means “unique” and last name means “hero,” has grown up to be just that. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, she has watched the news religiously, hoping to find a way to help. She decided that she wanted to donate her $30 in savings to Winchester Hospital.
Aanya’s mother, Rutwa, wasn’t sure. “I did not take it seriously at first, because kids sometimes say something they don’t remember the next day,” she said. But Aanya insisted for the next few days that she wanted to make a donation. Rutwa even caught her searching the internet for items she wanted to buy for the nurses and adding up the costs to see if she could afford them. “I’ve always known she really cares about people,” she said. “But I would not have imagined someone her age would show so much maturity. I’m very proud of her.”
Rutwa called the hospital and asked if someone would meet with Aanya so she could make the donation in person. “At her age, she needs to see this actually happening,” Rutwa explained.
Denise Flynn, vice president of philanthropy at Winchester Hospital, met the family at the hospital’s main entrance. “Aanya is quite possibly the youngest donor to Winchester’s Healthcare Heroes Fund,” she said.
Aanya handed her savings to Flynn and got a very special, socially distant thank you from hospital President Richard Weiner, MD. “It’s very impressive that you would think to donate the contents of your piggy bank to support our healthcare heroes,” Weiner said. He invited her to become a junior volunteer at the hospital when she’s old enough, a perfect stepping stone for the ambitious 9-year-old who plans to become a doctor.
Aanya also wrote a card for the hospital workers, which read, “Thank you for helping us through these uncertain times and saving many lives.”
During the walk home, Aanya was so excited that she met a real doctor who took the time to speak with her. “It meant the world to someone who’s at an age where she’s looking for role models,” Rutwa said. “I was really touched.”