Tag Archive for kids with cancer

Share A Square Is Rolling Along

I haven’t talked much this year about the afghans we make for kids with cancer, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It means that the volunteers are keeping me busy! The project is rolling along quite nicely. Packages of brightly colored squares have been arriving daily from all over the world. Don’t tell me that the postal service is having financial problems … Share A Square volunteers are paying their share of the budget!

I’ve been quiet on-line lately, because I have been stitching those lovely squares together into the afghans we will deliver next summer.

assembling afghan

Most of my yakking about the project is done on our Facebook page, but I know that the group on Ravelry is very active, too. You don’t have to be a part of either on-line group if you want to help us make afghans for the kids.

We have a deadline coming up on October 26th, when I hope to be able to sort out another 50 afghans (the first 50 kits were put together in the first week of September … but they still have to be assembled). To make fifty afghans, I need 4,000 crocheted squares (6 inches in size) from at least 80 different people! Yes, you can help! But, first, please visit the FAQ so that you know what we need and where to send them.

I’d love to see participation from crafters in all fifty states. So far, we’ve gotten squares from Finland, England, Ireland, Denmark, France, and Argentina … but not all fifty states! Wonder why that is? Does no one in Alabama crochet? What about Connecticut … Delaware … Indiana … Iowa … Nebraska … Washington … Virginia … Utah … Wyoming? And, Hawaii (maybe they are too busy enjoying the weather)? Or Rhode Island (OK, I know it’s a pretty small state)? Maybe they just haven’t found the project yet — so y’all tell ’em about it, please.

This year, we will deliver afghans to Camp Quality in Illinois. Although it will be a long drive to deliver them, it will be worth it. We will also pick another Camp Quality in a different state when we get closer to the deadlines. You can read articles about the delivery last year in the archives, and I promise it will warm your heart. My wonderful volunteers this year are going to help me blanket 150 children with love before we are done! We will see more smiles like this one:

shy smile

I’m going to get back to my stitching. I’ve made 12 afghans this month, and am shooting for 16. I don’t know if I will make the goal, but if you are in my neck of the woods, you can come on over and stitch with me. I’ll put on another pot of coffee just for you! Stop and pick up some donuts on the way, won’t you?

The Delivery of Medicine Bags at Camp Sanguinity

Some of you are aware that there was a “Good Medicine project” going on at this blog over the last year. Crafty folks from around the world designed “medicine bags” to give to some very special kids. Specifically they were for the 140 campers who would attend Camp Sanguinity, a summer camp for kids with cancer and for their siblings.

Folks sent me beautiful bags they had created, and lucky charms to put inside them. A package was made for each child with a bag from one donor, and three charms from three different people (that’s four people passing along good wishes). It was magnificent, and I wish you could have viewed the bags with me. I swear that I cried at the beauty of them. You can browse through the posts to see them. Some are on the Flickr Page, but I didn’t get them all uploaded. Sorry. I’ll get more posted when I get back from vacation.

Anyway.

At the last minute, I discovered that we wouldn’t be able to deliver those bags in person, and was terribly disappointed. Camp came and went, and I didn’t hear anything. Last week, I called the director to ask if the bags had been delivered to the children. She said indeed they had and the camp counselors had jotted some notes about the delivery. At my request, she sent those reminiscences to me with a note of thanks: “Our campers felt very special at receiving such gifts — you truly made the difference in the lives of some very special children. Thank you.”

I thought you might enjoy reading what the counselors had to say, so here it is.

The girls in Apache cabin were so excited about the medicine bags. They listened intently to the explanation and had some very good ideas and insight into the meaning. They were even more excited when they got to open their bags. They oohed and aahed over each bag, and began sharing with their cabin mates where each of their charms were from. They thought the bags and charms were so cool, and really enjoyed this special treat.

The girls in the Lone Star cabin loved their medicine bags! They were very excited to receive them, and overwhelmed at how all the charms came from all over the world. They carried them everywhere except swimming, and kept them near their pillows when they slept at night. They also added their own personal items as well; like letters from home and jewelry. Great work!

Being in a cabin with 14-year-boys, I was fortunate to see the reaction of the campers when receiving the medicine bags. They were genuinely excited while opening their bags, and seeing the love shown to them from not only all over the country, but all over the world. One camper exclaimed, “This coin is all the way from Israel!” He showed it to the other campers, and couldn’t wait to take it home and explain the medicine bag to his family. This was a great cabin, but I would be challenged to find their enthusiasm matched with any other gift given them during the week.

The Pioneer cabin (6 year old girls) were so very excited to receive the gift of the medicine bags. Of course, since they are 6, many of the girls thought the bags were purses. However, after we shared the history and meaning of medicine bags, they appreciated the kindness of the gifts much more. In particular, the girls enjoyed the charms. Jenna was thrilled to have a cute frog charm. And, Jennifer loved the purple bag. The smiles on their faces fully expressed the joy and excitement they felt for their beautiful bags. On behalf of the Pioneer counselors and campers, thank you for thinking to share your gifts with Camp Sanguinity.

The Dove Creek girls really enjoyed the bags. They sat and talked with each other about their charms, and what they meant. The uniqueness of each bag made them feel special like it was made just for them.

The boys from Fort Fisher are 9 years old, and really got into the Indian lore about medicine bags. When they got their bags, and saw the really cool charms, they began to talk about how each one could bring them good luck. They also talked about other items they had at home, that they could add to the bags. They tucked them away into their pockets to take with them to their next activity, sure that they would make a difference for them in the fun ahead.

Our cabin of boys from Coyote were really excited about receiving their medicine bags. One of the campers knew a lot about them already from a scouting project. They were all amazed at the fact that several of the charms, and some of the bags came from places outside of the U.S. They all showed great appreciate for the gift, and recognized the significance of the hard work put into creating them. Thank you!

We allowed our campers (Quail Creek – 12 year old girls) to choose which bag they thought reflected their personality, and each was very careful in their selection. Amazingly, it worked out just right, and no two campers thought they needed the same bag. Once they had their bags, they spent a lot of time looking at each charm, and the details of the bags, and talked about the fact that they came from all over the world. One camper in particular, treasured a bracelet that had been included, and said she would wear it every day.

It sounds as if the counselors took great care in giving out the bags, and that the children enjoyed the heck out of them. One child wrote a note and said, “They were awesome.” Indeed, they were.

Camp Sanguinity and The Good Medicine Project

Coordinating a summer camp for children with special needs, such as Camp Sanguinity, is an enormous task. Donations have to be obtained to run the operation. Volunteers must be found and trained to run the camp. Activities have to be designed and planned to fit into a schedule that will meet the needs of children who might tire easily. Entertainers must be hired, meals planned, craft supplies must be procured, and operations must be in place for the possibility of medical emergency. I’m sure I haven’t covered half of it.

For months ahead of schedule, there are continuous meetings with staff, volunteers and the board of directors to make sure everything runs smoothly. I understand all of those things.

I also know that The Good Medicine Project was, in the scheme of things, a very small part of that planning. As momentous as it seemed to me (and to some of you), this sharing of love and encouragement from around the world was not a major part of the plan.

My disappointing news is that The Good Medicine Project seems to have “fallen through the cracks.” Last year, with the Share A Square program, I was able to show you pictures of the delivery of the afghans. I was able to give you visual proof that your hard work was appreciated — that the children were thrilled to receive their gifts of love from you. I won’t get to do that this year.

For weeks, I tried in vain to reach my contact person at Camp Sanguinity. I had three crucial bits of information that I needed:

  1. I had to know the ages and genders of the children signed up for the camp, so that I could choose appropriate medicine bags and charms for them. Face it — a bag that might be wonderful for a five year old boy might not be considered “cool” by a thirteen year old.
  2. I needed to know when we might be able to deliver them, so I could plan our vacation week around it.
  3. I had offered my storytelling services as a program for the children during the delivery (a program that any other group would pay $600 to have me perform). I needed to know how many programs they wanted, and the ages of the children I would see so I could plan stories that would entertain and inspire them.

My contact person was always unavailable, I always got a promise that she would call back, but she never did. On the 30th of June, I finally received an e-mail with the breakdown of the children’s ages and genders. With it was a promise that I would receive an e-mail “tomorrow” with the time for delivery. “Tomorrow” never came.

Last Friday, July 3rd, I called to reach my contact but she was “unavailable.” The week-long camp starts on July 5th, and I still didn’t know when they would allow me to deliver the medicine bags. With the holiday weekend approaching, and the possibility that all the contact people would be out of the office for a week, I had no choice.

I took the 140 medicine bags, filled with lucky charms, to Cook Children’s Medical Center and delivered them to the director of the program. She was apologetic, explaining that she had “dropped the ball.” I did not argue with her on that point.

I gave her the medicine bags with instructions on how they were divided, and extracted from her the promise of a picture, so I could prove to you that your work was delivered. I asked her to write a note to acknowledge your hard work. To date, none of the directors of the camp have contacted me to tell me how much they appreciate the work you have done, although the children last year all wrote thank you notes. In the end, they are the only ones who matter.

We’ll wait to see if she follows through with her promise. The medicine bags should be delivered to the children by their camp counselors this week.

Meanwhile, let me tell all of the volunteers for The Good Medicine Project and for Share A Square that you rock! In the last two years, more than 500 people from around the country and the world have donated their time and talents to the children at Camp Sanguinity. A conservative estimate of the amount of volunteer hours put into this would exceed 10,000 hours.

You “done good,” as my Daddy used to say.

For those of you who are asking what I’ve got planned for Camp Sanguinity for next year, I have to say –– not a thing. I’d love to support the children, but I won’t go through this frustration again. I’ve toyed with the idea of finding another camp to benefit from our efforts, but this year’s disappointment has taken the starch out of me for awhile. Let’s just wait and see what mischief I might plan next.

I have a handful of thank you notes left to write. In my craft room, there are a few extra medicine bags and still some extra afghans. Although I had intended to donate them to Cooks Children’s Medical Center for the kids who didn’t get to go to camp, I’m looking for another hospital who might benefit from them. As for now, the chapter is closed on this particular book.