By Robert Frank
Some 35 volunteers gathered at VOBOC headquarters on St. John boulevard, Dec. 1, to bring holiday cheer to people who will be stuck in hospital have during the festive season.
“Every Dec. 24, we deliver holiday baskets to the McGill University Hospital Centre, the Lakeshore General Hospital and various palliative care residences,” communications coordinator Vanessa Hage told The Suburban in an interview. “Unfortunately the number that we have to make rises with each passing year.”
“Saturday was our basket making day,” she said. “We assembled 130 baskets filled with things like holiday food or decorations for their hospital rooms. We also personalized some baskets for patients with young children, including toys donated by West Islanders.”
Hage added that although VOBOC—which stands for ‘Venturing out beyond our cancer’—usually focuses on cancer patients aged 15-39, its holiday baskets “are delivered irrespective of age.”
“The baskets are really uplifting for patients and medical staff,” she enthused, “because there is something to give the patients which makes the ambience a bit more pleasant and festive.”
“Plus, if someone donates $100 to fund an entire basket, we include a card which tells the recipient who the gift is from,” Hage continued. “The program has proved quite successful because it is very tangible and serves the community’s needs”
The baskets are now in storage, awaiting distribution on Dec. 24.
VOBOC’s regular program includes a Vo-Pak backpacks that hospital oncology units give to young cancer patients on their first day of treatment.
“It contains tools and resources as well as comfort items such as toiletries,” Hage explained, “plus a $50 venturing-out certificate for an activity that they would like to attend.”
“We also organize last requests on a case-by-case basis for palliative or transitional patients,” she added. “We work with a lot of Montreal companies and organizations to respond to those requests.”
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