Despite many unforeseen challenges this year, the Sarah Grace Foundation for Children With Cancer, Inc. has continued in the pursuit of their mission. The Hicksville-based organization continues to fulfill its core goal of supporting children and their families during cancer treatment.
The organization was gearing up for its annual Night of Laughter, the largest fundraiser of the year, when everything locked down back in March. Instead, Matt and Marissa Weippert, the founders of the Sarah Grace Foundation, reimagined fundraising through virtual platforms. In their “Bake-LESS Cake Sale,” donors were asked to donate the amount of money they would spend on a normal bake sale and. This first-time event was an immediate success, raising more than $1,200.
Throughout the course of the year, the foundation reached out to both new and previous corporate and private donors. Despite the financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many donors still contributed what they could to support the foundation’s cause, generously allowing the foundation to continue their work at a time when it was needed more than ever.
To help raise further funds and to provide some levity to its supporters and donors, the annual Holiday Extravaganza fundraiser began earlier than normal this year, and featured gift cards for restaurants, on-line food delivery, and on-line shopping. The prize offerings were very well received and helped raise just under $5,000.
Thanks to a hardworking team of dedicated volunteers, the foundation overcame the obstacle of a 63 percent decline in fundraising revenue to continue to fulfill its mission. Core programs such as the Escape Hatch, Gabe’s Chemo Duck, Bead Program and Sarah Grace’s Book Angels were able to continue, as well as financial aid for meals, transportation, household expenses and funeral expenses.
“The pediatric cancer centers we partner with depend on the services and assistance we can provide,” Foundation President Matthew Weippert said. “We’ve always been in a position of ‘not wanting to say no’ when a referral came in and needed to do whatever we could to continue to fulfill our mission. This year more than ever, when so many were already struggling, we knew we had to do all we could to help these children and their families.”
The foundation typically distributes Halloween goodie bags to pediatric cancer centers in the area. Due to the health issues around the pandemic and the risk to children with already-compromised immune systems, local hospitals could not accept the typical goodie bags. Instead, the foundation provided 550 new factory-packaged toys and individual factory-sealed popcorn bags.
For the same reasons, the foundation had to think outside of the box for its annual holiday drive. This year, the foundation worked with local pediatric cancer social workers and sponsored an Adopt-a-Family program. The extreme need for these families has not diminished, but has increased as a result of the pandemic. Through local fundraising drives being held to provide specifically for this program, the foundation accepted individual wish lists for 17 families and “Sarah’s Elves” began shopping to fulfill the individual requests. All gifts were drop-shipped direct to the family homes and requests for food or clothing were fulfilled with gift certificates.
“Gift certificates are great, but the smile on a child’s face when they unwrap the toy they specifically asked for is priceless,” Weippert said, adding, “The foundation remains committed to the children we have served for 17 years and is extremely grateful for the continued support the community has provided.”
The foundation is working on additional virtual-based fundraising while at the same time hoping next year the world reaches a new normal and in-person events will once again be possible. Visit the Foundation’s website at https://thesarahgracefoundation.org/shop-donate/ if you would like to donate online. If you would like to send a donation, it can be mailed to the Sarah Grace Foundation at 17 East Old Country Rd., Unit B, PMB 202, Hicksville NY 11801.
—Submitted by the Sarah Grace Foundation