“While Dylan was playing baseball his junior year in high school, he started seeing double when the ball was hit to him or thrown at him. He would simply shut one eye and didn't think much of it so he never mentioned it to anyone. After school was out for the summer, while working for the family construction company, he then started having bad headaches. That went on all summer and right after school started for his senior year, he decided he needed to go to the doctor.
I took him on a Thursday afternoon, he then had a MRI that same day, then that afternoon he was in PICU at our local hospital after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. We left the next day for LeBonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis where he would eventually have two brain surgeries there.
After he recovered from the surgeries, he was sent to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. After we got settled in, we were sent to Target House to live the rest of our time at St. Jude. Dylan received 4 rounds of chemotherapy and 20 proton treatments for a total time of five months. I'm not sure what we would have done had it not been for Target House as they gave us a sense of home, which is what the families need.
Because of the outpouring of support we had from our community I wanted to give back to the kids at St. Jude Hospital. I put out a post on Facebook that I wanted to collect gifts for St. Jude Hospital. I was just hoping for 10. I would have been excited about just having a few. But then our school softball coach and dance line coach joined in and asked each girl to bring a gift as their ticket to get into their Christmas party. And then our community really got involved and it blew up in just a matter of a few weeks.
Most of the donations were toys but the money people sent was used to buy gift cards and gifts for the teen and young adult patients. We were able to take over 750 gifts and over $1000 worth of gift cards to St. Jude Hospital.”
We have taken what Dylan inspired and what Cindy started and created our School Outreach Program where Childhood Cancer Family Fund partners with schools to collect gifts or raise money to buy gifts for the pediatric cancer patients at St. Jude Hospital’s Target House. It also inspired our annual Toy Dive where businesses, churches and individuals can participate by collecting toys.
Cindy is now on our Board of Directors and is the Director of the School Outreach Project.
Cindy can be contacted at email@example.com
ST. JUDE HOSPITAL’S TARGET HOUSE FREE CHRISTMAS SHOP
Target House is the long term family residence for pediatric cancer patients and their families while the child is undergoing treatment at St. Jude Hospital. It is a St. Jude Hospital facility, and Target pays for the naming rights. There are 96 families that stay in two bedroom apartments. Patients needing treatment for at least 3 months and up to 3 years are assigned to live there. Kids range in age from infant to 19.
Patients at Target House tend to be the kids most critically in need of treatment. Families stay for free and utilities are paid. Food, household goods and personal hygiene items are not provided. Everyday living expenses are not covered.
There are very few pediatric cancer hospitals in the US so families often must go far away from home to seek treatment for their child. Families are often split up because one parent is with the child, or both parents come to live at Target House. So either one or both incomes are lost. Many of the families living at Target House are really struggling financiEach year donated gifts are used to stock a Christmas Shop where parents are brought in one family at a time and shop for their children with the help of a volunteer personal helper. The gift selections are then gift wrapped by volunteers and delivered to the families rooms. While there are lots of gifts donated each year there are not enough donations to cover all the gifts needed. On average Target House must pull thousands of dollars from money budgeted for other programs. We want to fill this gap so that their other programs are not negatively affected.
The following demonstrates why Christmas is so important to the families there and was witnessed a couple years ago by our volunteer at the Target House Christmas Shop.
Parents come down to the store one family at a time. A volunteer helper assists them with picking out gifts. On this night a mother of a patient came into the room that was filled with gifts and immediately began crying. A volunteer asked if she was okay, and through her tears she began to speak. She said she knew her child was going to be celebrating their final earthly Christmas and had just one wish for Christmas, one particular toy. She explained that money was tight and there was no way she could afford the only gift her child asked for. She said that just prior to coming down to shop she was online looking at the toy her child requested, trying to figure out the impossible, how she could afford it.
She came to the Christmas Shop just hoping to find something that might be a suitable replacement, but she admitted feeling so bad that she couldn’t afford the last gift her child was ever going to ask for. When she was escorted into the room to shop she immediately looked on the floor right in front of her. THERE IT WAS! The only thing her child asked for was sitting there waiting to be claimed! She was going to be able to provide her child the one gift they asked for, the last gift she would ever be able to give her child.
Someone out there somewhere donated that gift or the money to buy that gift and provided a Christmas miracle to that family. Your school’s act of support now can help provide the next Christmas miracle for a family at Target House. Will you help provide the next Christmas miracle?
Our Organization, Childhood Cancer Family Fund has a mission to provide Christmas gifts to the pediatric cancer patients and their families living at Target House at St. Jude Hospital.
The 2 programs allow for students, groups, teams, churches, businesses and individuals anywhere to get involved
The simple act of getting involved means the world to families with a child fighting for their life.
Your support and contributions will enable us to purchase Christmas gifts for St. Jude Hospital pediatric cancer patients.
CCFF is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable organization. Your donation may be tax deductible depending on your individual tax situation.
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