Each year, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF) pairs families in the Tri-County area who have a child with cancer with supporters to help make their Christmas dreams come true through TBCF’s holiday program Project Christmas.

Through Project Christmas, TBCF staff collect each child’s specific wish lists and shop for the items they want and need. Then, TBCF staff finds supporters to adopt a family for the holidays.

Adopting a family entails buying a gift for not only the child undergoing cancer treatment, but also their brothers and sisters. The value of each gift is $100. Additionally, each family that is adopted is provided a Christmas tree, Christmas lights, a $50 grocery gift card for a holiday meal, stockings, hot chocolate and candy canes.

The trees and gifts are delivered by TBCF to the family’s home in time for Christmas.

Project Holiday’s goal is to alleviate the financial stress of shopping as well as the time and energy associated with it. Often, it is not possible for parents to go shopping because they are under financial duress or they can’t leave their sick child.

“The holidays can be a difficult time for these families whose sole focus is on the health of their sick child,” said Lindsey Leonard, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation executive director.

“Through Project Christmas, our hope is to provide some joy to these children and families while bringing some needed relief for the parents/caregivers. Being able to help families and see children’s faces light up is what the holiday season is really all about,” Leonard said.

To make these efforts happen, TBCF has relied heavily on the support of communities in the Tri-County area.

“Getting to deliver Project Christmas gifts and trees has been such a highlight of our holiday season for the past six years,” said Susie Perry, a long-time TBCF supporter and volunteer. “Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation treats each family they serve as if they are their own family. It is such a blessing to work with them.”

“This has been an eye-opening experience being able to help these families, while they are going through so much. I hold these families near to my heart, even though I don’t know them personally,” said Summaer Cole, who has rallied in the community to collect toys and food for families each year through Project Holiday Programs.

“Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation is such a wonderful organization with the most amazing people that are so dedicated to these families. I feel truly lucky to be able to be involved in the efforts,” Cole said.

“We really appreciate everything you (TBCF) have done for us since the very beginning. You are always so attentive and always thinking about us,” said the
Sandoval family. “The help we’ve received from TBCF has helped us with so much from the financial support to all of the emotional support you have given us, especially our children.”

The Sandoval family received Project Christmas assistance as well as a Project Turkey delivery of Thanksgiving food last month through Project Holiday Program.

This year, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation projects it will assist 190 families in the Tri-Counties.

Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit that provides financial and emotional support to families of children with cancer living in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. For more about TBCF and how to support families that have a child with cancer, visit www.teddybearcancerfoundation.org, or call 805-962-7466.

— WaveComm SB.