Every year staff at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario gear up to think of creative ways to raise money in preparation for the Christmas season. But instead of Christmas treats or a festive outing, this money goes towards helping support patients and families of the Cancer Centre.
“Year over year the need is higher and every year the staff go above and beyond with their generosity in helping to provide for patients and their families,” says Debora Stark, Social Worker with the Cancer Centre. “This is a completely staff run initiative and is a way for the staff to help those who they know are going through a particularly tough year.”
Beginning each December the Social Work team asks staff to nominate an individual or family who is currently receiving care and has had a particularly tough year and could use some extra cheer during the holiday season. From there, groups and individuals at the Cancer Centre contribute through purchasing gifts, gift cards, giving money or donating their time to wrap presents.
“Staff here care so much about their patients and are so in tune with who they are as people; the generosity shown every year demonstrates how keenly aware staff are of when a patient is having a hard time and they want to do something to help bring a smile to a patient,” says Stark.
When a family or individual is nominated, the social workers will reach out to them to see if they are comfortable receiving some extra “Christmas cheer” from the Cancer Centre. If they agree, the social workers will then work with teams and individuals in the Cancer Centre to pull together items to give. The gifts are always given anonymously and the families don’t know who nominates them.
This year, 26 families and individuals will receive a gift basket from the Cancer Centre.
“The joy and emotion from patients when they receive what we were able to pull together is incredibly touching,” says Stark. “For them to see how much we care about them you can tell makes a huge difference for them, especially at this time of year.”