Fact: Everyday, 46 school children will be diagnosed with cancer.
Maybe some of you have heard the saying NEGU. It’s a saying at the heart of the foundation created by Jessie Rees a former pediatric cancer patient herself. NEGU stands for Never Ever Give Up, a motto that Jessie used as she battled cancer at age twelve.
When she was going to the hospital for her cancer treatments she realized that some of the children never got to go home after treatments. Some of these children spent months and years in the hospital trying to fight their cancers. She wanted to bring a little happiness to their lives in the form of a Joy Jar. A Joy Jar contains age-appropriate goodies contained in a jar. Depending on the age of the pediatric patient this could be a combination of matchbox cars, coloring books, lip balm, beanies, small stuff animals or a necklace. Small items that fit inside a jar that a child of that age would like to play with.
We actually worked on personal Joy Jar requests which come with a little story behind the child affected by cancer. This was truly humbling as well as an emotional experience. Each Joy Jar is very personal. Each Joy Jar request comes with a small story about the child that usually includes the diagnosis and what the child is like. Getting to hear about the child’s story can be difficult. It is so sad to think about what some children and families have to go through.
As I mentioned each Joy Jar is very personal. Since we have some information about the child we try and customize the Joy Jar as much as possible. One of the Joy Jars I did was for a 5-year old that loved cars and policemen. In the Joy Jar Factory, I was able to find items matching what he liked and stuff the items into his jar. I know in a few days a little boy in Indiana will receive his Joy Jar and it will make him smile. Maybe make his day. It won’t take away his cancer but hopefully, make his day a little better. This is the mission of Joy Jars and the foundation started by a little girl who was affected by cancer herself.
We choose to volunteer with the NEGU Foundation for a few reasons. First and foremost the organization is a class act making a difference in the lives of children. Secondly, my daughter knew Jessie before she passed away. They were in the same age group and both swam for the same swim team in Mission Viejo. (Orange County) My daughter joined the team right around the same time Jessie was diagnosed with cancer.
I’ve done a lot of volunteering in my life but never any that was this emotional. As we went to lunch afterward near the Mission Viejo Mall we were stopped twice. (We all were wearing our NEGU t-shirts) One lady with her two kids chased us down. She wanted us to meet her son who happened to be a NEGU Kid. He even showed us his NEGU gear he was wearing. She asked us what our involvement with the organization was and I explained we were volunteers. She thanked us all for volunteering and picking a great organization to work with. The other lady has a nephew that was a NEGU kid as well.
I encourage anyone that is looking for a charitable organization to donate to this pediatric cancer foundation. If anyone would like to volunteer Diana Hughes is the person in charge of organizing volunteers for NEGU.