To help ease the financial burden of families living in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties who have a child facing pediatric cancer during the holiday season and ongoing pandemic, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation has launched its Season of Hope campaign.
The fundraiser, which is expected to run through the holidays, aims to help families cover their basic needs and provide Christmas gifts and trees.
During this challenging year, the foundation has continued to provide families supplemental services, which include money for rent assistance, grocery gift cards, additional emotional support groups with licensed therapists, virtual and in-person tutoring, meals and care package delivery, and virtual family fun events to keep kids engaged, according to a spokesperson.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation so far has gifted over $7,000 in emergency grocery gift cards, provided 137 additional meals to families, and awarded 37 families an additional $500 through a Special Circumstances Fund, the spokesperson said.
“This year has been particularly difficult and when you add COVID–19 on top of the already traumatic experience of having a child with cancer, you can only imagine how much more added stress these families are facing during the holiday season,” said Dr. Corey Pahanish, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s executive director. “Season of Hope is going to alleviate some of that and give these families joyful memories during this time.”
As the holidays approach, the foundation is gathering additional resources for families, ranging from Christmas trees and presents to emergency grocery/merchant gift cards.
One mother of a child with cancer, Sheila Saldan, said that during this holiday season she feels hopeful.
“When we felt strong enough to reach out, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation was there to help us begin to heal,” Saldan said. “Teddy Bear gave us something other than the day-to day-fight against cancer; it gave us hope. Hope, because there were other families out there going through the same things. Hope, because they treated us not as cancer parents but as regular parents.”
The foundation will be delivering Christmas gifts and trees to over 53 families and 110 kids in the coming days. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers will leave the gifts at the front door of each household at a prearranged time, ring the doorbell and step safety back before family members open the door.
To donate to the Season of Hope campaign, visit teddybearcancerfoundation.org
Lisa André covers local news and lifestyles for Santa Ynez Valley News.
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