Of all the holiday trees this season, one at the Cotton-O'Neil Cancer Center in Topeka truly captures the meaning of the season.
It honors past cancer patients, while giving current patients a helping hand.
The Stormont-Vail Auxiliary's Angel Tree is in its second year. Past-president Lois Jones helped launch the effort last year as a way to help cancer patients with extra expenses. It's a personal effort for Jones.
"I lost both my husband and my daughter-in-law to cancer, so it's special to me," she said.
People can buy an angel for $5 in honor or in memory of someone. Proceeds go into the Angel Fund. So far, it's helped people with food, utilities and medications and some things that might be less obvious. Social Worker Kim Olson, who handles applications for the fund for the cancer center, says she's helped people who drive long distances for radiation treatments apply for gas money. She's also helped elderly patients apply for the Lifeline service, so they can care for themselves at home rather than enter a nursing home.
The Angel Fund allows people to apply for up to $250 per person or family a year, with the money going directly to a vendor. Olson says it may not sound like much, but it's enough to relieve some stress from a stressful situation. Recently, for example, she helped a woman get assistance with food and transportation.
"She sat in this lobby and cried," Olson said. "She was just so appreciative."
Olson says the fund is designed to help people with basic needs to get over a hump until a more permanent solution can be found. She says the people she works with are all people who, through no fault of their own, got cancer and need help. The fund, she says, provides that help.
People can purchase angels in person at the Cotton-O'Neil Cancer Center, 1414 SW 8th, or in the Stormont-Vail North Tower Lobby. Purchases can also be made on-line at www.stormontvail.org. Donations directly to the Angel Fund are also accepted.