She folds 250 pieces of origami a day to cheer up people parking at Richmond hospital

Posted at 2:13 PM, Nov 08, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-29 15:42:00-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- There are few places more monotonous than a garage. You park. You pay. You leave. But in this darkened space, a bright light breaks the boring. Cici Stith greets drivers from her small booth like a best friend.

Southern hospitality at its finest. But Stith goes beyond just a “thank you” with your receipt.

"Yes it is a lot of work, but I love what it does for people," Stith said.

Each transaction comes with an offer many can’t refuse. Stith spends hours snipping and folding Origami.

She said she makes about 250 folder paper animals a day. It's a craft she learned as a child in South Korea.

"I started doing this here in April when I first started working. And I haven’t stopped," Stith said.

Hundreds of handmade animals -- by the bag full.

Each with a special meaning. Each given away.

"She gave us a little monkey the other day," one driver shared. "She makes you feel happy when you leave this place."

Stith’s artwork is becoming a collectors’ items.

“I keep them in my car because I want her to know I still have them. They’re kind of like my good luck charms," another driver said.

Stith takes great pride perfecting her craft.

“My husband thinks I am nuts for doing it all day and every day," Stith said. “It is my way of showing support for everyone here.”

You see this the garage at Children’s Hospital at VCU.

"They may be going through something hard," Stith said. "If you give them something that gives them happiness that is what matters."

Stith said one never knows what the person behind the wheel is enduring.

Atiya McCray is familiar with repeated doctor visits.

"She is a beautiful person," Atiya said. "Every time we pull up, we get one. We take it as a token of peace, and I put it in my Bible. I have three or four in my Bible.”

After a sickle cell health scares with daughter, the unexpected gesture healed her soul.

“She [is] an earthly angel. We need more of those," Atiya said.

What customers don’t know CiCi gives while suffering in silence.

“I have had a disability which really hindered me and kept me sad all of the time," she said. "This just really pulled me out of it.”

An accident a few years ago caused severe nerve damage. She cannot move her foot or toes on her left foot and lives in constant pain. But giving from the heart may be the best prescription.

“It really is. To where you don’t have to take no pills or nothing," she said. “Something that makes you feel better without medication is always a good thing.”

Her work space is more art studio than lonely booth. Thousands of paper-thin masterpieces rolling out of her gallery every week.

“As long as I’m here everyone is going to get origami," Stith said.

CiCi Stith is the parking attendant whose created a lot of love.

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