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|YES, VIRGINIA, SANTA'S SPIRIT IS REAL (standard:non fiction, 1260 words)|
|Author: Marsha||Added: Mar 15 2002||Views/Reads: 1855/1225||Story 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (56 more lines)
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