The students and faculty of May Independent School District presented the Walker Cancer Center with 64 goody bags filled with comfort items for patients in a short ceremony in the May gymnasium on Wednesday afternoon.
Christy Smith, May Elementary special education teacher, led the fundraising effort and helped purchase blankets, socks, mouthwash, lotion, hard candy, chapstick, puzzle books and other items for the bags. The school raised over $1,300 to purchase the items.
Every bag also included a hand-sewn, heart-shaped pillow made by May Elementary math teacher Kathy Davis, who is herself a recent cancer survivor. “The heart pillows I made because every time I had surgery, every time I had chemo, someone would bring me a heart pillow,” Davis said. “It was welcomed and it comforted me.
“It’s a journey that no one wants to take,” Davis said of cancer. “The more people are there behind you and supporting you, the easier it is.”
Smith said she had long been looking for a way to give back for the holidays, but that it was May Superintendent Mike Carter’s idea to involve the students in fundraising. “That’s where it started,” Smith said.
Smith said that students, faculty and the entire May community were responsible for the fundraiser’s success. She said the top contributors were the eighth graders and—perhaps not surprisingly—Davis’s fifth grade class.
“They all just got after it,” Smith said. “We had one eighth grader who came in and pretty much told her class, ‘You know what, everyone’s bringing ten dollars tomorrow. You’re doing this.’ And they did it.”
Walker Cancer Center director Tammy Means and social worker Gail Hightower visited the school to receive the donations. Means said items like blankets and puzzle books would help patients keep comfortable during long hospital visits. “Sometimes your chemotherapy treatment can last all day,” Means said.
“It’s amazing in this day and age to see the compassion that children have,” she said.
Though most high school students were already gone for the day after taking finals, over a hundred younger May students gathered in the gym for the presentation. The sixth-grade class stacked the 64 bags in front of the hospital representatives before everyone posed for a picture.
Smith said she had anticipated filling perhaps 30 bags when the fundraiser began. The students ended up giving more than twice that amount. “It just came from their hearts,” she said. “It was amazing to see how it inspired them.”
The goody bags will be distributed to Walker Cancer Center patients throughout the Christmas season.