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High-school students give 'hope' to chemo patients

by Western News
| September 15, 2009 12:00 AM

Hope in a little blue bag.

When chemotherapy patients at St. John’s Lutheran Hospital come in for treatment, they receive “Great Hope Bags” thanks to a group of local high-school students.

Following in the footsteps of Tracy Anderson of Marysville, Wash., a breast cancer survivor and creator of “Heart Love Bags & Baskets,” the bags contain several comfort items.

The GREAT Committee is a small group of students that strives to build strong community relationships through their volunteer actions, as well as creating a fun and safe environment in the high school for students to interact.

“We do many different things throughout the year including dances and movie nights, as well as basketball, chess, dodge ball, and badminton tournaments,” said Levi Neubauer, committee member. “The GREAT Committee also organizes several fundraisers and benefits to raise money for cancer and other groups fighting cancer such as Wings.”

The committee’s name was derived from a specific set of identified goals – graduation, responsibility, enthusiasm, attitude and try.

Each bag includes a hand stitched hat for head warmth, lip balm, antibacterial lotions, thank-you cards, pens, chocolate, bookmarks, spiritual literature, prayer cards, informational literature about cancer and treatments, hard candies and a magnet from the American Cancer Society. 

“In the next year, we plan to release a batch of bags every three months, and these new bags will contain everything that is in the current bags, as well as ginger herbal teas, bandanas, puzzle books and more,” Neubauer said. “Some of the items in these bags have been donated to the committee for this specific use, but several of the items were purchased from the GREAT Committee’s general fund.”

St. John’s Linda Matthews said “it has definitely put a big smile on the faces of my cancer patients. They can’t get over the fact that young people are taking such a positive and active role in helping cancer patients.”