There are many people and issues that require immediate attention during these times of uncertainty. Charities have adjusted the way they operate on a daily basis and many have had to make significant shifts to fulfill their particular missions. Unfortunately, many charities may not weather this storm.
Our intention with the Charity x COVID-19 series is to share updates from a spectrum of charitable organizations to garner attention and inspire support for those in need.
Charity Name: West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation
Core purpose and mandate:
To offer practical support, joy, and community to kids living with childhood cancer/blood disorders and their families.
How is your organization impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
WCK usually offers three programs which have now been indefinitely placed on hold:
- City Camps – a unique day camp for kids in cancer/blood disorder treatment and their siblings.
- Smoothie Sunday – making fresh smoothies for kids and parents in cancer/blood
disorder treatment at BC Children’s Hospital.
- Culinary Care – matching a professional chef with a family dealing with childhood cancer to create an unforgettable meal.
Given that the kids we support are often immunocompromised, these programs will be on hold for several months afterlife is back to “normal” for the general population.
In the last few weeks, WCK Board and Staff have spent a lot of time talking to families and oncology medical professionals at BC Children’s hospital. We have quickly come up with a pivot plan and will be rolling out two new programs in the coming weeks. We will be offering:
- Virtual Connection – This program creates adult-to-kid connections or small peer group connections, with a focus on building positive and supportive relationships to reduce isolation and promote positive mental health. A previously screened adult volunteer will offer homework help, facilitate virtual playgroups, and be a positive connection for kids with cancer or siblings.
- Food Support – WCK is working hard to roll out a new program to sustain families through food support during this time. We will be offering grocery gift cards, organizing volunteers to grocery shop, and do contactless meal deliveries for families dealing with childhood cancer/blood disorders. Meal delivery will include pre-packaged frozen meals.
For families with a diminished capacity for thinking about meal planning and preparation, healthy pre-packaged meals have been identified as a game-changer. Being able to microwave a ready to eat meal removes pressure and provides much-needed nourishment in a very manageable way. While COVID has given us the time and opportunity to start this program now, the intention is to continue this type of support for families long after the pandemic is over.
How have your fundraising plans changed?
Our two fundraising events scheduled for Spring and Summer have been canceled which will result in a loss of approximately $20,000. Our largest fundraiser, The Brad Wait Golf Tournament, is planned for September, with an anticipated income of $80,000. We will continue to monitor the situation and make a decision closer to the event date.
Our focus has shifted to seeking corporate support for our food program.
If there is one story or message you would like to share with our community, what would it be?
WCK was founded to challenge the status quo of support for families living with and beyond childhood cancer in BC. These kids deserve more. These families deserve more.
And now, more than ever, we need to step up. The COVID pandemic has compounded an already exceptionally difficult time for families who have a child with cancer. In many ways, these families are used to managing trips to the grocery store with hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes. They understand isolation for weeks after a bone marrow transplant. They are all too familiar with anxiety and uncertainty. Some, however, are weary of asking for help.
One family we support has been dealing with cancer treatments, radiation, and experimental medications for seven years straight. Their 19-year-old daughter still has to go to BC Children’s Hospital for treatments, scans, and appointments during a time when the world is safely staying home. WCK is stepping up during this time. We call them directly, ask them what they need, and figure out how to be the best support we can be. In this case, a gift card for groceries and a bottle of wine for Mom and Dad, were a simple way for us to remind them you are not alone in this.
How can one support your organization most effectively?
Undesignated financial support allows us the freedom to directly make a meaningful difference for children and families dealing with childhood cancer/blood disorders.
Connections to significant influencers in the food industry will allow WCK to provide a greater level of practical support for families. Using our strong volunteer base and creating partnerships with food providers will allow WCK to do more with less of a financial impact on our available resources.
Can donations be made electronically? If so, how?
Donations can be made directly on our website (https://www.wckfoundation.ca/donate) or contact us and we can easily provide our bank, branch, and account details for an electronic transfer.