Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Volunteers Preparing to be Holiday Heroes

Everyday, I read applications for financial assistance for families battling childhood cancer. I see applications for laptops, our Milestones program, and our direct financial assistance program. With each one I read, I silently thank Allie for bringing the child and family into my life, and I remind myself how very lucky we were during Allie's treatment. We didn't struggle to keep our lights on. We had strong family support surrounding us with love. We asked for things, such as our dog to be taken care of or our laundry to be done, and it was taken care of. Many families going through the battles of childhood cancer cannot say the same.

This month is our big Holiday Heroes project. Holiday Heroes adopts families for the holiday season to help bring them hope, love, and hopefully some happiness during a difficult time in their life. With the help of more than 140 volunteers, we are adopting 40 families from all across the state for the holiday. We have volunteers through our women's auxiliary, HFC Friends, in Dallas helping us with 26 families in North Texas. There is a sorority group in San Antonio, and volunteers through our Heroes and Handbags group in Houston helping (though we do need a few more volunteers in Houston to help and shop this Friday morning with me and Danielle, if you're interested, email me).

The applications were all due on Friday. All last week, they steadily came in. Wow. These families we're adopting are going more things than I could possible imagine. Like the family of a single mother with her five children barely able to meet the bare necessities (HFC paid to keep her lights on last month). A Christmas? Not going to happen for that family without us. How about the family whose child has been in the ICU for exactly two months as of today? The mom hasn't left her son's side and dad is only working sporadically while the other siblings are shuffled around. Of course, there is the family who adopted four children and then their biological child got diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to Hurricane Ike, the family's home has more than $35,000 worth of damage.

Above: Melech (front left), his aunt and her three other children see their gifts for Holiday Heroes
I'm truly humbled seeing what the families ask for. A family who has a 3 and a half year old with cancer, a 2 year old, and a baby merely asked for Hot wheels and tractors for the boys and diapers for the baby. Diapers. That's it. Of course, with a $1,000 per family to spend, we're going to make sure they have a great holiday. We'll get them diapers, diapers, and more diapers, and I suspect even more for the baby that might just be for fun too.

Above: Volunteer Stephanie Duncan (left) and me, Jenny Scott, (right) wrapping gifts for a family

We shop for four days in the next two weeks in four different cities. It will take four staff members to help shop being that we have to be in different locations with our volunteers to pay for all the items (no, we don't need donations for the program. We are luckily blessed to be able to fully fund this program--volunteers simply help me shop, wrap, and deliver--not give monetarily). In December, we will give out the gifts. In Dallas and Ft. Worth, we're lucky enough to be able to throw parties for the families through the generosity of the Pi Phi's of SMU and a health honor society at TCU. One day, we will hopefully have a stronger presence in Houston to be able to do the same type of thing there as well. For now, we're glad to be able to do what we can there.

Above: Holiday Heroes family recicipent with volunteers at the Pi Phi House party last year

I know that in the next two weeks as I stand in line to shop for these families, I am once again going to be silently thanking my sweet Allie for bringing these families into my life and allowing me the opportunity to help them, even if it is just by finding a Wii to put under a Christmas tree this year.

NOTE: HFC Friends is still accepting membership for the 2008--2009 membership year. All activities are volunteer based and do not require anyone to fundraise. Membership is only $40 but makes a BIG difference in the lives of the families we help---just ask the forty families getting assistance through Holiday Heroes.

1 comment:

Michael said...

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1. Renting a car when traveling in a group of four is usually cheaper than buying travel passes – and more convenient.
2. Food, guidebooks, taxi fares can all be split between the group bringing costs down.
3. Rail passes for groups or pairs may find discount offers in some countries.
4. Some airlines offer discount rates to groups of ten or more traveling together.
5. Group package bookings that have everything included in the price will have all expenses covered so you won’t be surprised by any extra costs, apart from shopping!
6. Discount holiday packages for large groups of travelers are offered through a number of travel agencies. Sports fans may be able to travel to big events using one of these travel packages for much cheaper than organizing it on their own.Volunteer Travel