To provide assistance to low-income families with special-needs children in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia counties, with a particular focus on the needs of siblings in those families.

After Rachel Teresa Scarcelli was born in January 2004, her undetected heart defects became immediately evident. Open heart surgeries repaired the damaged heart, but left Rachel too weak to eat on her own. Gastroesophageal reflux complicated the feeding situation, so Rachel never learned to eat.
Until she was 4 years old, she was dependent on a gastrostomy tube for feedings. While Rachel was being treated at Childrenís Hospital of Philadelphia throughout her first year, her parents sought assistance from friends and family who lived close by to help with the care and emotional support of her two older brothers. Without that strong network of help, Rachelís brothers would have had a much more difficult time dealing with not only an ill sister, but also with significant disruption to their daily routines. The realization that many families do not have a support network inspired Rachelís mother to take action.

Begun as a gesture of human kindness to one family in need, The Hearts and Smiles Foundation has grown into an organization providing assistance for many low-income families who have a special-needs child. With the help of social workers at local agencies, the Foundation maintains a Wish List Program to identify families in need. These families struggle with disabilities such as autism, developmental delays, genetic disorders and physical deformities.

The Hearts and Smiles Foundation was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the state of Pennsylvania on June 12, 2006.

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