Changing lives one Christmas at a time

The Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa (CHOC) is gearing up for the festive season and plans to create unforgettable memories for special children under their care.

With a little over two months to Christmas, the foundation has started planning for the big day as well as for three major parties for the children and their families. These parties are held annually prior to Christmas for children receiving treatment at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre and at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

According to Charlie Bainbridge, events and fundraising coordinator at CHOC, the foundation has about 700 children under its care and it is the foundation’s prerogative to put a smile on their faces by presenting a gift to each child.

“The first one will happen at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on 19 November. We have about 300 kids there and we will throw a proper Christmas party,” said Bainbridge. “We will have Father Christmas and we were looking to get a company to sponsor us with hot dogs, bread rolls and presents, it will be a big one.”

The foundation will throw its second party at the Wits Donald Gordon Hospital on 25 November and their last one at the CHOC home in Saxonwold on 3 December for the children receiving treatment at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

“We are going to turn the garden into a playground for kids – with jumping castles and slush machines to make them feel like they can still have a good Christmas,” said Bainbridge. “The whole family has fun. Parents come along and Father Christmas hands out all the presents and it’s something fun for them.”

The foundation said last year about R100 000 was raised and they were hoping to beat that this year.

“[Just] R80 can put a smile on a child’s face for Christmas and the money can be donated straight to us or donors can buy us presents,” said Bainbridge. “We have a list of things that could be bought for the children.”

More presents will be collected for Christmas day and will be delivered to children in hospital who are too sick to go home by volunteers who are mainly parents who have lost their children.

Bainbridge is encouraging all those who are willing to open their hearts, to start donating so as to give the foundation enough time to do their magic.

“The worst thing that you could do is run out of presents,” said Bainbridge. “It’s all about them [the children] on the day; it has nothing to do with treatment which is something we look forward to.”

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