BLACKWOOD, N.J. (CBS) – Volunteers are sending support to local chemotherapy patients carried in thousands of bags. Inside an old bank building in Blackwood, New Jersey, Jeanne Rodrigues and Michele Gambone have stacks of snacks loaded into hundreds of bags.
“It’s called Snack Packs for Chemo, and it’s supposed to be something to help someone getting an infusion,” Rodrigues said.
The project was started about two-and-a-half years ago by The Unforgotten Haven, a Blackwood-based all-volunteer nonprofit. Founder Michele Gambone was looking for a way to help cancer patients and heard that snacks would be welcome.
“Then it got rolling really quickly,” Gambone said.
With the advice of medical professionals, they made a list of things chemo patients really needed, such as mints and crackers. They added notes of encouragement – some from adults, some from kids.
“We really didn’t realize that was going to be the most important part, but we get thank you cards for the cards,” Gambone said.
Erika Hauer, of Sicklerville, knows how important those bags are. When she was going through chemo after a 2016 breast cancer diagnosis, the snack packs were both a pickup and practical.
“The mints were my favorite,” Hauer said. “Mints and Chapsticks, you can always use.”
Now that Hauer is done with chemo, she volunteers to deliver the Snack Packs for Chemo to one of 17 infusion centers.
“Getting them were great, but giving them out is even more special,” Hauer said.
In less than three years, The Unforgotten Haven has distributed about 40,000 bags. It’s one of their most popular volunteer projects.
“You can sit at home with your family and make these. It’s so easy,” Gambone said.
“You can drop off 10. You can drop off a thousand,” Rodrigues said.
Each one could be worth the world to someone you won’t even meet.
Instructions to make Snack Packs for Chemo and how to drop them off can be found at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0d4eafaf2eaa8-snack
For other information, check the projects section of The Unforgotten Haven website at https://www.theunforgottenhaven.org/projects/