In exchange for a smile

May 23, 2018

Hayley, Charlie and Zali delivering hampers to a staff member from RCH and placing some hampers under the ward’s Christmas tree.

By work experience student
Zali Peters

A project straight from the heart, and a disease many of us are affected by.

We all know someone who is suffering from cancer or someone who has had cancer.
Even as a 16-year-old from my perspective I have seen it affect so many families, this horrific disease desperately needs more focus and research to help find a cure.
Charlie Hargraves, Hayley Bigger and myself took on a huge project last year.
We came up with an idea to improve the mental health and positivity of the children and families affected by cancer in the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in Melbourne by creating activity hampers for children.
At Yarrawonga College P-12 year nine students participate in a subject called PPL which stands for Personal Project Based learning.
This is where our idea sparked.
We wanted to make a difference to members outside of our community and address something we saw as a problem.
Our aim was to put a smile on a child’s face.
We set out writing a proposal, letters for donations and lots of fundraising.
Having been in the cancer ward at the RCH at various occasions, it is evident how boring, depressing, and scary the cancer ward is.
The children with cancer have this as their home for their treatment and we wanted our project to make a difference.
Imagine not being able to smell the fresh air, hear the birds sing or feel the sand between your toes. Instead, being constantly indoors.
Several machines making all sorts of noises, chemotherapy, operations, blood transfusions, constant supervision and no freedom.
Our strong passion for caring for others was our driving force, making it our priority to achieve this project and make it as successful as possible.
Many local businesses throughout Yarrawonga supported us, kindly making donations as well as the school community raising money from a casual dress day held at Yarrawonga College P-12.
These generous donations made our project all possible.
With our donations, we set off to Kmart in Wangaratta to spend the entirety of the money.
It was a big shop, purchasing various items and toys for ages of 0 to 16.
We purchased items such as games, stationary, balls, slime and much more, targeting different toys for various age groups.
The next step was to combine our items to fill our hampers.
The hampers were put together with the aim to entertain the children and make their days less boring.
We then planned a day trip down to Melbourne to deliver our 21 activity hampers we produced, about a week before Christmas.
We were able to meet with one of the staff from the RCH who assured us, that those children with cancer in the hospital on Christmas day would receive a hamper and would be very appreciative.
We had finally reached our goal and we were extremely happy with how well our idea had went to plan.
I believe this should be an ongoing project yearly and would love to continue this project myself with the support of our amazing community.
I couldn’t even imagine thinking how I would deal with being in the position of one of the children suffering from cancer.
Just taking a moment to realise how making a small difference can have a significant impact on their treatment and recovery is rewarding.
Not only to put a smile on these children’s faces but to also improve the positivity of their treatment and let them know that complete strangers care about their health and well-being.
Hopefully with the support of the community we can continue this amazing project, to improve the positivity of these children and families impacted by cancer.

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