Oak Bay High students are opening the door to Christmas for those away from home this month undergoing cancer treatments.
The 19 members of Youth Against Cancer crafted their way to hang a happy holidays at the Canadian Cancer Society’s Vancouver Island Lodge.
“We’re making door decorations for each of the 21 rooms,” said Chloe Van Neutegem.
“It helps them feel more at home,” added Samantha White. “And so they know they have people thinking about them.”
The two Grade 12 students at Oak Bay High lead the club that created the decorations for the doors, inside the rooms and handmade cards for each guest at the Canadian Cancer Society Lodge near Royal Jubilee Hospital.
“We’ve always done smile packages,” Van Neutegem said. “This year we were asked if we wanted to come decorate.”
“This way we’re able to share the holiday spirit with all the visitors to the lodge through December,” said sponsor teacher Roxanne Taggart.
The lodge expects 90 guests will use the lodge while undergoing cancer treatment this month in Victoria.
“They’re going to touch every single person that comes through our lodge in the next 30 days, to show that someone’s thinking of them,” said Tracie Clayton, Canadian Cancer Society annual giving co-ordinator for Vancouver Island. “The Youth Against Cancer club at Oak Bay is definitely a youth leadership group. We feel privileged to work with them. It makes my job a lot more engaged when I get to see such young people getting involved. Seeing young people at this age already investing in those things is amazing.”
The room decor will include wreaths, said Mia Kennedy, who spearheaded a leadership group crafting trip to Sir James Douglas elementary.
“We made wreaths from all of the students,” Kennedy said. They used handprints to make the greenery of the wreaths while children’s thumbprints made the red berries. “There are 21, for each of the different rooms.”
It’s all about “lifting spirits,” Van Neutegem said.
The club works year-round for the Canadian Cancer Society including the spring when those yellow daffodils appear everywhere.
“It’s a lot more than them just coming to decorate the rooms at our Vancouver Island Lodge. What they’re really doing is continuing their relationship and commitment to us,” said Clayton. “Oak Bay high school students are really youth leaders in their community. They set an example for our other youth to follow.”