Goodies Galore. . . Sally Betts and Bri Grace hold some of the gifts provided in care bags for chemotherapy patients. PHOTO: SHELLEY INON

by Shelley Inon

A small group of pupils at Roncalli College is putting together care bags to be presented to first-time chemotherapy patients at Timaru Hospital.

The idea came about when teacher Sally Betts approached Roncalli’s Zonta group cheer up the patients on their “worst day imaginable”.

Mrs Betts went through her own journey with breast cancer 13 years ago, and a nurse had done the same for her. She had tried to pay that forward over the years.

“It is just something to put a positive spin on an awful day.”

But she had always wanted to take it further.

Roncalli Z Club president Bri Grace said the group was keen to collaborate.

“There are people in our club that have had parents or family members that have gone through it, so it was definitely something we wanted to pick up on.”

The pupils hope to have enough parcels so everyone visiting the oncology unit for their first treatment will receive one.

“We’re wanting this to be an ongoing project, so if people want to help can give to this.”

Club members have had some contributions already, such as hand-knitted beanies and gloves to counteract the cold fluids that patients receive, travel mugs rom Z service stations, and snacks from Heartland Chips and Cookie Time.

Mrs Betts is hopeful that the community might be able to give a little more so they can reach more patients.

“There are 30 to 40 people diagnosed with cancer each month in the district.”

Mrs Betts believed that everyone wanted to help.

“They just don’t know what to do or to say. Even if it is a one-off donation, like a box of pens with the business’s name on it, or if a cafe wanted to donate a small amount of vouchers for a free coffee. We don’t need hundreds, anything counts.”

Even leftover wool would be gratefully received by Mrs Betts’ mother prolific knitters responsible for the gloves and beanies.