Many of these families who have children suffering from cancer don't have enough money for gas to get to the hospital and back, let alone buy Christmas presents for their children. We hoped to help the families forget (briefly) their troubles and enjoy themselves.
How has 4-H helped?
Maria Williams is a volunteer for the American Cancer Association in Merced/Atwater area. She was approached several years ago to help continue the Family Christmas Party for children with Cancer which was in jeopardy due to lack of funding. As a Cancer survivor herself, Mrs. Williams saw a need and took up the torch. She has been working on it with the assistance of the Cancer Association, First Five of Merced (a nutritional education program in our county), St. Anthony’s Knights of Columbus # 4305, St. Anthony's Catholic Daughters, and the Atwater Relay for Life Committee. This event was brought to the attention of our club we decided to help. We bought food, presents and decorations; helped set up and clean up; and served at the event. We also bought fabric to make fleece scarves for the children with cancer, bought candy canes and made candy cane reindeers as place setting decorations for every person at the event.
Our members had a great day! We helped serve over 170 people in less than 20 minutes. We helped greet the guest, hand out the candy canes, serve the meals, assist the guests in carrying their plates, , helped distribute the gifts from Santa, and cleaned up at the end. We will certainly help Mrs. Williams again next year. Our members learned how children with cancer are just like every kid at our meetings and they want to be treated like normal children. We learned about process these kids have to go through in regards to medications, treatments, and chemotherapy. Many of our members have known families that were affected by cancer and we were made aware of the needs of the families wanting to have a regular family event that wasn't focused only on their sick children. Many families wanted more information regarding 4-H and how they could join. We have contacted several families who are interested in joining (however it depends on their child’s wellness). Many would like to enroll their other children to give them a "normal" activity outside the hospital environment. We are expanding our service to the community by attending the upcoming Merced Relay for Life. We have about 150 scarves left and we will be donating them to the Merced Relay in April and the Atwater Relay in October. We will be going to the relay as observers, not participants this year, to learn from the over 150 displays posted by the participating teams