LAKEFIELD – Cuddles for Cancer’s ninth annual Kids for Christmas campaign, led by local youth advocate and Cuddles founder Faith Dickinson, is underway – once again offering children and needy community members a little warmth and comfort during the holiday season.
Since launching the annual initiative in November, Dickinson and her organization have been welcoming dozens of volunteers of all ages every Tuesday to attend the Lakefield Legion, where participants are kept busy helping create handmade, cozy fleece blankets.
Dickinson’s nieces, six-year-old Layton Tobin-Nicholls and seven-year-old Isabel Tobin-Nicholls, are among the dozens of volunteers dedicated to making the cuddly blankets. The young duo were invited to join the campaign by Dickinson himself, who says, “You’re never too young to make a difference.”
After the Cuddles for Cancer walk-in center closed due to the pandemic, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 77 in Lakefield stepped up after a three-year period to provide the organization with a space to create.
Every year, Cuddles of Cancer creates “Cuddle Blankets” to ensure that every child admitted to the Peterborough Regional Health Center during the holidays is provided with a special “Cuddle” support blanket. Following the local success of the campaign, Dickinson expanded the initiative to include children admitted to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
Dickinson created Cuddles for Cancer when she was nine years old. Dickinson turned her aunt, who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, into a cozy fleece blanket. Now, nearly a decade later—Cuddles for Cancer will celebrate its 10th anniversary in July—Dickinson’s organization is struggling to keep up with rising demand, receiving at least 20 requests every day.
Each year, Dickinson and Cuddles for Cancer encourage families, schools, churches, businesses and organizations to participate in the campaign; an initiative that the founder is “next to and dear”.
Cuddles for Cancer comfort blankets are usually distributed to children on December 23 or on Christmas Eve.
Along with children at PRHC, the blankets will also be distributed to young people of all ages at Peterborough’s YES Shelter for Youth and Families and YWCA Crossroads Shelter. Cuddles for Cancer has also launched a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $15,000 to meet rising demand.
“This year is the first time we’re doing the GoFundMe campaign at the same time, so we’re not asking for a specific amount this year. Any donation is welcome. No amount is too small,” said Dickinson.
Dickinson, 19, a graduate of Lakefield College School and currently a sophomore at the University of Ottawa, said she strongly believes not to hold fundraisers during the pandemic as I help families and businesses in the community, who are already doing it. had a hard time.
“We are reaching out now because the need is so much greater than the funds we currently have,” she continued.
If her organization meets her fundraising goal, she can fulfill all of her requests.
“If we exceed our goal,” Dickinson said, “we will be able to fulfill requests from other communities. We aim to deliver 50 blankets to homeless people in downtown Toronto every Christmas Day or in the run-up to Christmas, and this year a police officer has asked for 50 blankets in Hamilton for the homeless in their center.”
Dickinson said her hope is that the initiative will be able to “reach as many people as possible”, “let them know that they are not alone, that someone cares about them.”
Cuddles for Cancer has made more than 8,500 “cuddly blankets,” and while most of it has been sent to children and those in need locally, blankets have been delivered to more than 50 countries around the world.
More than 300 blankets will be made in the coming weeks.
People can donate to the campaign via GoFundMe at bit.ly/3DM7A8q
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.