By Erica Sokol SPP16, Founder of StudentsCare
Holiday season is officially among us! While most of us are making plans for New Years or worrying about what to get for the class/office White Elephant gift exchange, there are over 40,000 children fighting cancer, whose parents are worrying their child might not make it to Christmas. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t get a Winter Break.
At StudentsCare, we are helping to make this time of year a little brighter for these kids and families. StudentsCare matches college students with inpatient children with cancer, giving them Hospital Buddies to provide friendship, support, and hope while they’re in the hospital. Although most of our students go home for the holidays, we make sure their buddies and families are well supported. We encourage our students to hold donation drives on campus to collect gift cards, DVDs, and comfort items to put together holiday baskets for kids and families that will spend the holidays in the hospital. Our students also plan and facilitate holiday events in hospital playrooms or their local Ronald McDonald House. Our University of Pennsylvania students recently visited the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House and made “Turkey Cone” crafts with the kids. The families were so appreciative that the students took time out of their holiday weekend to be with their kids.
We also encourage our students to let their buddies know ahead of time when they will be leaving so they are prepared for this, and we even suggest they work with their buddy to create a Flat Stanley paper doll that the students can take photos with while at home or wherever they may be traveling. Upon return, they can create an album with their buddy of all the photos. Little actions that show they care can go a long way toward making their buddies and families feel supported.
The holidays are also a busy time for nonprofits, as we make our last push for year-end gifts, incentivizing donors to donate by Dec. 31 for current year tax-deductions. So in the holiday spirit, please consider making your year-end gift to StudentsCare. Any donation, big or small, will go a long way in supporting our kids and families! Click here to make your tax-deductible gift today.
Wishing a happy and healthy holiday to all!
Bio: Erica Sokol is a second year graduate student in the Nonprofit Leadership program at the School of Social Policy & Practice. Erica joined Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program in October 2015 to work on StudentsCare. Erica was born and raised in Miami and attended undergrad at the University of Florida. In her free time, Erica enjoys movies, yoga, and cheering on the Florida Gators.