Cancer does not take a break when kids are out of school for winter vacation. Chemotherapy, scans, medical appointments, radiation, surgery – it all continues despite the date on the calendar or any traditions and family plans. Families coping with cancer therefore have no choice but to barrel through the holidays and hope the next calendar year brings more promising health.

The teenage daughter of a local cancer patient smiles as she opens holiday gifts with her mom. (Photo shared with permission.)

Some special people joined The Mayday Foundation to make life easier for local families coping with cancer while raising kids at home. Through our second annual Holiday Healing program, donors gathered friends, family members and coworkers to help fulfill holiday wish lists. They shopped Black Friday deals to extend their budgets. They pooled resources to buy a bike for a teenage boy. They connected with other organizations, like the Hands On Children’s Museum and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, to add memberships for families. They wrapped, labeled and delivered presents.

The way donors listened to families was very meaningful to the recipients.  “My daughter enjoyed ALL of the gifts, but was especially tickled by the service dog books and patches. Training her dog to support her is her passion and her future career choice is to raise and train service dogs for people in need. Her dog, Bear, is a pound puppy and she has done a fantastic job training him. Thank you to the wonderfully thoughtful and generous people for putting a smile on my daughter’s face.  You are all earth angels,” said an Olympia mom coping with cancer and raising a teenage daughter.

Along with holiday gifts, generous donors also supplied each family with a custom “winter break family fun kit.” Each bag was loaded with cookie mixes, crafts, movie tickets, activity books, Safeway gift cards, trampoline gym passes, Meconi’s gift cards, playing cards, hot cocoa, Oly on Ice passes, LEGO sets, laser tag passes and gift cards to Painted Plate. The winter break family fun kits were an extra surprise. Each bag was customized for the size of the family and age and interests of the kids. We knew a kid in high school would have very different needs during winter break than an elementary aged child. The bags were delivered to front door steps on the last day of school. “The kids just opened the BIG gift bag! Unbelievable! We are all just speechless! The Mayday Foundation and all the people behind it are unbelievable. We’ve never experienced this before and are so grateful,” said the spouse of a cancer patient raising two kids in Olympia.

A teenage son of a breast cancer patient asked for his bike to be serviced and repaired. Thanks to generous donors he received a brand new bike instead! (Photo shared with permission.)

On behalf of the 12 families receiving gifts this holiday season, thank you to each of these coordinators for organizing their crew, communicating about picking up or delivering gifts and showing Mayday families that people care.

“I’m already making plans for next year,” said Susan Greenwood who coordinated gifts for a Lacey family of nine with her PEO chapter. “This was my first year doing this and with this group so there are a few things I’m going to tweak for next year.  Please mark us down!”

We could not have accomplished this level of giving without volunteer delivery drivers. A huge shout out to Amanda Benjamin, Erin Gantenbein, Melanie Kallas Ricklefs, Megan Mikkelsen, Stephanie Pratt, Julie Sandberg and Jodi Shelman. “Everyone was super thankful and commented on how remarkable the support is and how grateful they are for The Mayday Foundation’s donors,” said Jodi Shelman after delivering gifts to a couple families. And a special thank you to Leslie Shahan and her little elves for preparing tasty cookie mixes for each family.

Two Olympia-area kids sit near their holiday gifts donated through Holiday Healing. Their mom sent this picture as part of her thank you to donors. (Photo shared with permission.)

If you would like to be a part of Holiday Healing 2020, please send a note to There is always a way to add more givers this coming holiday season.

A few final quotes from some Mayday families:

  • “You inspire hope and faith in humanity, where the disparity in our society is palpable.”
  • “All the gifts and financial support have been so appreciated.  We feel we’re not alone in this cancer battle.”
  • “I am overwhelmed! You are all the most amazing people.”

The Mayday Foundation provides immediate, practical financial support to local families coping with cancer while raising kids at home.  We believe no family should be forced to move or file for bankruptcy as a result of their cancer diagnosis.  To support local families through their cancer treatments, please consider making a donation.  Almost 100% of all donations go directly to families since operational expenses are covered by a donor.

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