When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the entire focus of a family and even of a community shifts, as it must for a time, to the child in treatment. The aim of childhood cancer advocates around the country is to raise awareness so that these children will receive as much attention and love as possible. Through the efforts of Kyle's Kamp and organizations like it, the hope is that these patients will feel special and important, and that all of this attention and focus will move us ever closer to our ultimate goal: a cure.
Of course, these children deserve such attention, as they face unimaginable stress and challenges, so childhood cancer charities do what we can to lessen their burdens. I have seen amazing work done by countless charities to keep the innocence and fun in a childhood that cancer relentlessly attempts to steal. And every single one of us who works in this community is better for it. This work is the proof of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive
All of the people who I have met working toward a cure for childhood cancer have experienced the fact of this ancient prayer. That it is in giving to this cause that we receive. That it is in loving these children that we feel love. That it is in consoling a grieving parent that we feel consoled. It is an experience I want my children to know. It is an experience I think that all children should know - healthy children and children with cancer.
In December, Kyle's Kamp was able to help cancer patients experience the truth of St. Francis's prayer. We opened a "Holiday Store" at the Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders of Northern Virginia. A section of the clinic's waiting room was decorated like a Winter Wonderland with glittering snowflakes hung from the ceiling and colorful holiday scenes painted on the windows. Thanks to generous donations from countless individuals and organizations including Smashing Walnuts and Stillbrave, the shop was overflowing with gifts for any and everyone - toddlers, teens, moms and dads.
The Kyle's Kamp Holiday Store allowed children coming to the clinic for treatment to "shop" (free of charge) for their moms, dads and siblings. After the children chose the perfect gift for each member of his or her family, volunteers wrapped the presents for them. And, of course, we let them choose a little something for themselves! The children then left the clinic after their appointments, arms full of brightly colored packages, to surprise their families with the gifts they had picked out all on their own. Children who did not have appointments scheduled that week were able to stop by the Kyle's Kamp office the following weekend to shop for their families.
Yes, these children receive a lot of attention, a lot of focus. And they deserve it. They also deserve to be the givers. Each child chose each gift with a lot of thought and a lot of love. They felt proud of the gifts they could place under their tree for the family members who love them so well.
For it is in giving that we receive. Yes, indeed, it is.
Hope has finished her shopping - just needs her sleigh and some reindeer!
Tara's got something for Dad!
It's so hard to choose!
Vincent spreads Christmas cheer!
A little more Christmas cheer from Vincent
One of our Volunteer Elves Hard at Work!
Sabrina shops 'til she drops!
Alex's family had to take turns promising not to peek as he chose gifts for them!
Kyle and Sabrina know that hugs are the very best gift of all!
Kyle's Kamp would like to thank the wonderful volunteers who helped out at the clinic and in the office and the following individuals and organizations for their generous donations to the 2014 Holiday Store: Cub Scout Pack 1459 from Poplar Tree Elementary, Stillbrave, Smashing Walnuts, Home Depot, Deloitte, Melissa Allard, Christine Kerr, Cherye Moore, Heather Marohn, Winky Burks, Tanya MacInnis, Gail Ritter, Linda Claymier, Tracy Dean, Christine Remy, Donna Speckhard, Chris & Sandy Rupp, Jackie Graham, Sandra Yokum, Linda Long, Kelli Johnson, Sarah Mahoney, Julia Koehler, Mary Martin, Kevin & Tracy Mawyer, Tom Mitchell, Traci Wrobel, Gail Palmer, Muffin Pelligrino, Sydney Rollison, Tina Rollison, Susan Rouse, Alexis Schaffer, Lisa Shaw, Cindy Skinner, Chris Waltrous, Teresa Wright, Liz Saum, Chris & Krista Woods, Ann Schuneman, Gloria Haines, Marilyn Maticic,Scarlett Haymore, Lynette Meglio, Lynda Gibss and many, many more.
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Jenn Skinner is a Christian and a Texan(Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient and funny husband and her 3 very impatient and funny little boys/ball players, She joined the fight against Pediatric Cancer with Kyle's Kamp in 2013. She also writes about just about everything and nothing and the ridiculously abundant life God has gifted her at her blog, The View From Behind Home Plate