Monday, November 3, 2008

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. This year, 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 Hurrican Ike, the family's home has more than $35,000 worth of damage.



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.



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.



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.


11 comments:

Christine said...

Jenny,

Your organization does amazing things! I have been reading about your family since I was in nursing school in 2004. I am now a hospice nurse and think of you and your family often. We have so many families that are in need as they are taking care of dying family members. I don't know how they do it. I think we have the easy job to come in for a few hours a week. The families are the ones that struggle there with the hard job of taking care of the ones they love. Not to mention all of the other children and household things they still have to worry about. I just wanted you to know that I started reading about your family in nursing school and think of Allie quite often as I care for dying patients and their families. She lives on....

Christine

Tammy said...

Jenny, you Allie and your organization are just AMAZING! All because of one little Angel! WOW! Hugs from Fort Worth!

Erica said...

I have followed you for years and rarely commented. Reading your entry today and how you help these families and how you thank Allie for bringing them to you touched me so much. Thank you for being such an amazing person. I may not know you and I may have never known Allie but, you've both touched my heart over the years.

jen said...

wow, I am so proud of you and Larissa. And of course, Allie and Taylor. You two have done an amazing job with HFC. It seems like just yesterday when it all began and we sat in that little conference room (that we borrowed) and created by-laws and our mission statement. You have come a LONG way baby!

Thanks also for the reminder of how fortunate I am. I can't tell you how many times to this day and stop myself and remember how much worse life could be and how grateful I should be. This post is a good reminder.

Your angel continues to do incredible work (: Love ya.

Charlie said...

Hi, This is Brittany, Charlie's wife. I don't know exactly how this program works, but I got the idea from your post. If there is something I can do or volunteer I would like to. Let me know. Thanks!

Brittany

kcandone said...

I live in the Houston area and actually emailed you right after you guys started up asking if there was anything I could do to help out. Im not sure when on Friday you plan on doing the shopping but I would love to help out if possible. Please email me and let me know as I could not locate your email address on your blog....mine is krc_55@yahoo.com

kitkat said...

I will help with what ever you need!!!! call me!

kate's mom said...

That is an amazing story, Jenny. I am in Ohio but I wish I could volunteer! Thanks for this post.

Graycesmomma said...

I second Kate's mom, I am in Ohio but would have loved to help. You are such an inspiration. You guys are doing amazing things!

Megan said...

Hi, my name is Megan and I've been following your journey since right before Allie passed. I rarely comment, but when reading about how you're going to help those families I started to cry. They were tears of happiness and joy for those families and for your (and everyone else who is involved and has ever donated anything to help others) generosity and the ability to bring happiness to those families, even if only for a little while. While I've never had to struggle with the hardship of having a child with a life-threatening disease, I have been in situations where I haven't been able to pay the bills or where I've barely been able to even feed my kids and other people have helped us out by paying our utility bill or buying us food and even, a couple years in a row actually, buying Christmas presents for our kids. I'm still not in the best financial position right now. My husband and I struggle to pay the bills still, but I can't wait for the day when we're making enough money that we have a little extra so I can return the gratitude and generosity so many others gave to us. I want to be able to give other parents the same happiness and joy that my husband and I felt seeing our kids' faces light up because there were presents under the tree on Christmas morning when it wouldn't have been possible for there to be any presents if it weren't for the selflessness and thoughtfulness of others. I hope one day soon I can be that Secret Santa for someone else.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how your post touched me and how you and all the other generous people in the world have inspired me. You're doing a wonderful thing with your organization(s). Allie is so proud of you. I just know it.

Brightwood said...

Jenny,
I am always amazed by all HFC does for families in need across Texas. You guys are so inspirational!