TAMPA, Fla. — Not going to school, being isolated from friends, having to wear a mask, for many children these are all new challenges due to the pandemic. However, for pediatric cancer patients, it’s always been a way of life.
“We want to make some noise, and do some good, and try to create some positivity around such a negative subject,” said Rachel Slowey, with The Giving Girls.
Slowey leads the way, as the nonprofit group prepares to surprise the children of 1 Voice with Valentines.
“We wanted to lift up the children’s spirits, so with that, and with Valentine's Day around the corner, we wanted to do something nice to show the love,” said Slowey.
The Giving Girls teamed up with students at St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School, who made handmade cards, each one more creative than the next.
“They are super cute, this one says, ‘some buggy loves you and they made a little caterpillar with their thumb,’” said Slowey.
For Rachel, this cause is very personal, she just celebrated one year of being cancer-free.
“It’s the little things that really add up to be the big things,” said Slowey.
The children on the receiving end of these gift bags may be wearing masks, but you can tell, they have big smiles underneath.
“It feels really nice that kids that you don’t know and they don’t know you, I think it's still nice that they share the love,” said 13-year-old Tristen Wombacher.
1 Voice provides 25 different programs for more than 600 pediatric cancer patients and their families. It can be a lonely world, and they want to help.
“Cancer is a very isolating disease, children in particular, ‘I can’t go to birthday parties, I can’t play soccer, I can’t go to scouts,’” said executive director Mary Ann Massolio.
1 Voice said following the past year, all children have a little better understanding of what it means to have cancer, and the response has been heartwarming.
“Like the children who made those cards, they know what it’s like now, they are wearing masks, they are zooming, they’re doing the things that our children have always done,” said Massolio. “And these cards being homemade by other children, I mean how special is that.”