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YES, VIRGINIA, SANTA'S SPIRIT IS REAL (standard:non fiction, 1260 words)
Author: MarshaAdded: Mar 15 2002Views/Reads: 1856/1225Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Kids in need are "adopted" by secret elves who deliver Holiday cheer!
 



YES, VIRGINIA, SANTA'S SPIRIT IS REAL 

By Marsha Jordan Santa really does exist, or at least his spirit exists
in the Hugs and Hope Club for sick children.  The club's 500+ members 
are acting as Santa's elves this holiday season and they're making a 
difference every day in the lives of sick children who have never even 
met them before. 

Hundreds of strangers all over the country and even throughout the world
 are reaching out to critically ill children and helping to bring a 
little more love and laughter into their lives. 

Seven-year-old Connor loves watching Scooby Doo with his dad and playing
computer games.  He is not so fond of all the checkups that are 
necessary because he has a rare form of advanced cancer. The second 
grader tries to talk his way out of each medical procedure that his 
doctors require of him, but in the end he always must give in and 
submit to the treatments. Connor has had radiation therapy, chemo 
therapy, and seven surgeries in his battle to beat cancer.    His 
experience has been made a little easier because of the "happy mail" he 
receives from Hugs and Hope Club volunteers.   And his Christmas will 
be merrier because of the ELVES  who volunteered to sponsor him this 
holiday season. 

Before Connor became a member of the Hugs and Hope Club, he would lament
that the mailbox was always empty.  Now he happily receives mail on a 
daily basis from people all around the world.  "It means so much to 
Connor to know that people are thinking of him!" said his mom, Rhonda. 

For many families of sick children, Christmas is a tough time of year. 
With medical bills, the prospect of Christmas gifts is often unlikely.  
But, thanks to the elves of the Hugs and Hope Club, Connor and hundreds 
of other sick children will have gifts under the tree on Christmas 
morning and so will their healthy brothers and sisters. 

Hugs and Hope Club founder Marsha Jordan believes that "Christmas
morning should be fun and and happy, even if your family has fallen on 
rough times financially."  She feels that sick children especially 
should have a joyous Christmas, because it might just be their last. 

Jordan remembers, "This idea of bringing joy into the lives of sick kids
began when I heard of one little boy with brain cancer.  I posted his 
story on the internet and asked visitors to the site to send him cards 
and small gifts to cheer him up.  What began as a hobby has mushroomed 
into a full time ministry," says Jordan. 

Jordan suffers herself from a chronic illness (autoimmune disease) which
caused her to lose her sight three years ago. She knows what it is to 
be in pain, worried about medical bills, and unsure of the future. 
Though she can see now, her vision is poor, so she is disabled.  Her 
disability seemed like an ending, but in reality it was a new 
beginning.  It spurred her on to help others who suffer and turned her 
life in a new direction.  Her heart especially goes out to the 
children, "because they are so innocent and they can't understand what 
is happening to them." 

Jordan started the Hugs and Hope network in the fall of 2000 from her
home computer in northern Wisconsin. 

"I have about 500 volunteers who do a variety of jobs.  They all send
mail to the children, but many do other things as well.  Some send 
balloon bouquets to hospitalized children.  Others make tote bags 
filled with activities that the children can work on while in the 
hospital.  Some send out  birthday party boxes filled with decorations 
and everything needed to celebrate the child's special day.  Other 
volunteers organize benefit fundraisers for struggling families.  Each 
volunteer can use his or her own unique talent to somehow help 
children. 

Janice Wilder is a "hugger and hoper," as the volunteers call
themselves.  She lives in Maryland and is a cancer survivor herself.   
She tries to encourage other people to become volunteers too. "It 
doesn't take much effort on your part to make a huge difference and I 
have found personally that my life is brightened so much by whatever I 
do.  It's a wonderful feeling to know that you are bringing a smile to 


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