Ask any family who has had a child hospitalized in the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on a Thursday night, and they can tell you all about CURE Childhood Cancer‘s Open Arms program. An “institution” of sorts, Open Arms is an ongoing program whereby CURE staff and volunteers bring food and fellowship to children hospitalized for cancer treatment and their families. For more than 20 years, CURE has provided dinners to families on Thursday nights, bringing a sense of home to the hospital.
“Open Arms is such a meaningful program,” remarks Lisa Branch, CURE’s Director, Patient & Family Services. “CURE is providing much more than food. The caring support of our volunteers means the world to these families.” Mary, mother of a young cancer patient, agrees. “It was so nice to be able to go right into the family room and get food, a friendly smile or just be able to escape and cry for a few moments amongst others who knew exactly how I was feeling,” Mary says. “The food was always delicious! I remember CURE being there on Thanksgiving Day 2007, which was the day my son was diagnosed. As a matter of fact, CURE is always there when we are.”
The needs of our patients and families led us to expand our Open Arms outreach by adding a monthly lunch more than a year ago. Now, we are adding a second lunch, a brown bag lunch. On the 4th Tuesday of each month, CURE staff and volunteers will deliver CURE lunch bags to the Aflac Cancer Center at both Scottish Rite and Egleston. These lunch bags will be delivered to the parents of children with cancer who are staying in the inpatient unit. The purpose of the program is to help defray the overwhelming costs to families who face lengthy hospital stays with their children.
We will deliver 60 CURE Brown Bag Lunches each month. We need your help! We are looking for groups, companies and/or organizations to “sponsor” a month of lunches, either by donating the cost of the food ($300 for one month) or, preferably, by collecting the food we put in the bags and delivering it to the CURE office for volunteers to assemble. We would love to host “brown bag” work days at the office where kids could come assemble and decorate the bags and make cards to include in the bags.
For more information including a list of food items we are collecting, to sponsor a month of Brown Bag Lunches, or to volunteer to assemble Brown Bag Lunches, please contact Lisa Branch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-986-0035 ext. 22.