Coordinators: Valerie Garcia (Houston)
In loving memory of Charles Garcia and Craig Buckenham
"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and tell you how truly amazing your organization is to us. Well, not just to us, but to everybody on the 9th floor. Texas Children's Hospital is truly blessed to have an organization like yours to help support their patients. Your volunteers have given us so much more then just groceries…they have given us friendship, love, hugs and smiles. It is so comforting to know that someone does care and understands what we are going through."
"We just wanted to say a huge thank you for the service you are providing and the things that B.I.G. Love has brought to us while at Texas Children's. When the basket of goodies come, my son says it feels like Christmas! Thank you and your family for all that you do and know that it is so appreciated by families like ours who are 100 miles away from home."
"We want to thank you so very much for all the goodies that you all sent to us while our son was staying at the Hospital. It is very kind of you to take your time and show how much you care for all the children with cancer. I don't have enough words to thank you. You always brighten our stay at the hospital. We wish that God will bless you with so much more so you can continue your work at the hospital."
Our Weekly Grocery Program provides all cancer children and their caregivers with an opportunity to request on a weekly basis special grocery or comfort items that they might desire such as: special snacks, toys, detergent, toiletries, blankets, socks, puzzles, and books. This enables cancer kids and their families to obtain essential groceries, supplies and other items needed to make their extended hospital stay more bearable. Sometimes, families ask for necessary items like detergent and toothbrushes. Other times, they request items just for fun like dinosaurs, movies, games, or fancy drinking cups.
At the beginning of each week, we receive grocery wish lists ($25 allowance each) from all cancer patients/families at Texas Children's Hospital and Dell Children's Medical Center. Several B.I.G. Love volunteers then embark upon the enormous task of shopping for all these families. Before weeks end, a B.I.G. Love volunteer delivers to each child and family their requested items.
Since January of 2008, we have been providing this service on the cancer unit at Texas Children's Hospital (36 beds). The response to this program is overwhelming. A nurse at TCH commented, "It is so wonderful to have an organization on the cancer floor that cares and provides for our families' needs." One cancer family wrote, "B.I.G. Love is not just here for us at Christmas time, they are here caring for us all year long." In January of 2014, we added the cancer unit at Dell Children's Medical Center, Austin, TX (24 beds). Each year through these programs, we are able to serve over 5,000 cancer kids and their families.
Many cancer families, traveling worldwide to receive quality treatment, arrive at the hospital not only financially strapped and in gross need of basic healthcare, but also find themselves in need of basic resources, support, employment, and relocation alternatives. Also, due to the pressing medical needs and immune suppressed condition of their child, they are isolated from the outside world and can remain hospitalized for several months at a time. Additionally, because of the high price of parking at $13 per day, most families are reluctant to leave the hospital to run basic errands. As the founder and director of B.I.G. Love Cancer Care, I understand firsthand the intense and heavy burden of living at a hospital and caring for a sick child. My youngest daughter, Brooke, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of three. After two years of fighting courageously through intense chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at TCH, she passed away on September 29, 2006. It is because of her love, and our experience and needs as a cancer family that we created B.I.G. (Brooke's Incredible Gift) Love Cancer Care Services.
It will always be our mission and lifelong pursuit to serve other cancer families in a very real and loving way...always addressing their most basic and essential needs first. Not only does our Weekly Grocery Program meet the practical needs of families on a weekly basis, it also provides an opportunity for our B.I.G. Love volunteers to provide personalized and relationship based care to cancer kids and their families.