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Volunteers help deliver holiday cheer to palliative care families

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Each year, the Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center at Akron Children’s Hospital sends handmade, signed holiday greeting cards to their patients and families, as well as bereaved families. The number of palliative families keeps growing every year, and this year there were 1,400.

In 2010, a few volunteers from the center’s community leadership team took it upon themselves to find an easier way to accomplish the task. Marie Parker, Meg Lamb, Cathy Clark and Elizabeth Sheeler got together and enlisted the help of Akron Children’s Women’s Board, as well as other volunteers, and organized the first card-signing event.

This year at least 50 volunteers helped with the event and finished in just 3 hours. They enjoyed holiday music and a light lunch, sponsored by Marie and Elizabeth.

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“The collaboration between the community leadership team, the Women’s Board and the other volunteers was phenomenal,” said Marie. “The opportunity to make and send out holiday cards to all the pediatric palliative care families is wonderful for the families and everyone who is involved in it.”

The community leadership team also helped create many of the holiday cards.

Now that they’re done creating and preparing the holiday cards, they’re gearing up for their annual Holiday Elves project, which delivers trees and wreathes to palliative care families.

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Last year, they delivered wreathes to approximately 20 families, as well as stockings filled with toys, cakes donated by the West Side Bakery, and gift cards.

“This can be a stressful time of year for palliative care families. They may be spending a lot of time at appointments or at the hospital with their sick child and not have time to do a lot of shopping or decorating. Or they just may not have the energy or feel in the holiday spirit because of everything that is going on,” said Meg Lamb, the community leadership team chair. “We are privileged to be able to assist the palliative care staff with delivering these holiday items to bring a little cheer. Those of us delivering experience as much joy as the families receiving.”

We know our families are very appreciative of the cards and gifts they receive from our palliative care team, and we couldn’t keep doing that without the generous support of these volunteers.