Nonprofit to support chemo patients open to donations of hats, other products prior to annual care package event

  • Sheila Nurse and her group of who friends hand-make thank-you cards for Pink Revolution care packages. —Lauren Caulfield

  • Volunteers put together chemo care packages at a pre-COVID-19 Pink Revolution packaging event. —Lauren Caulfield

  • Knitted cap for chemotherapy patients, to be included in care packages put together by Pink Revolution volunteers. —Lauren Caulfield

  • Volunteers put together chemo care packages at a pre-COVID-19 Pink Revolution packaging event. —Lauren Caulfield

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/23/2021 8:32:28 AM

The most important lesson from Linda Roberts’ childhood was to always help others, even and especially when she didn’t have to.

“I’ve always been that way since I was a kid, and my parents always raised us to always do things for other people to help out,” Roberts, who now lives in Jaffrey, said.

Now, she fulfills this principle by crocheting. She’s currently working on crocheting hats for patients going through chemotherapy, to be donated to the nonprofit Pink Revolution Breast Cancer Alliance of New Hampshire.

“They’re pretty quick to do,” she said, and she wants to hopefully get 20 to 25 done before collection ends in late October. Anyone wishing to knit or crochet hats for the collection can find more information on the Pink Revolution’s website.

The collection is part of a nonprofit founded by Lauren Forrest Caulfield and Ronda Chrystal after Caulfield went through her own chemo treatment in 2017. The two women started the nonprofit with the goal of supporting cancer patients who were struggling going through chemo – particularly if they were struggling alone.

“One of the things that I found when I went to treatment is not everyone had a support system around them,” Caulfield said, referencing her own support system of her husband and friends.

They decided to bring Pink Revolution to New Hampshire in order to help rectify that situation for as many patients as possible. Part of that is putting together chemo care packages once a year and distributing them to oncology centers all over New Hampshire and even in a couple hospitals in surrounding states.

Their first year, Caulfield said, they put together 1,300 care packages and distributed them to 25 oncology centers. Now, it has become an annual tradition to collect the pieces of the care packages over the course of months, and then gather about 150 volunteers into a school gymnasium in Brookline to construct the packages in a big event.

The care packages contain many items – the knitted or crocheted hats are only part of it. They also have toiletries and socks and many other products that Caulfield found useful during her own treatment, as well as mood-boosters.

One of those mood-booster items are handmade thank-you cards put together by Sheila Nurse and a group of six other people out of Wilton.

Nurse got involved by attending the packaging event in 2018, after which she became a part of the nonprofit’s committee. When she mentioned the handmade cards to Caulfield, they decided that they would be part of the next year’s care packages.

The idea, Nurse said, was that patients going through chemo would have these cards that they could give to someone who had helped them or impacted them in some way.

So Nurse and her group of six friends made 1,300 cards in 2019 – a huge undertaking, she said, but she added, “It was really fun.”

Also included with the cards was a note, done in calligraphy by one of the other committee members, explaining what the card was for.

“It was very special and very professional looking, and the cards were a hit,” Nurse said. The response they got from recipients was so positive, she said, “We kind of knew we were onto something special.”

This year will be the second year for the thank-you cards, for which Nurse and Caulfield have recruited some more people to create the sheer number of them that they need.

Other helpful items include blankets and afghans, like the ones made by Karen Shutt out of Pittsburg.

Shutt’s crocheting is important for her mental health, she said, and she had made so many blankets for all of her family members after a while that she needed more recipients.

“I ran out of people to make them for, and then I saw Lauren’s post on Facebook,” she said. “And I just really love the whole cause behind it and her story and her reason for doing it.”

Shutt’s own experience with cancer patients, having worked in hospice and supported her mother through a cancer diagnosis, meant she understood Caulfield’s goals personally.

She made almost 100 blankets last time over the course of six months, and her goal for this year is 100 again.

“Our job just went up several notches this year,” Caulfield said, pointing out that because of COVID-19, many people missed annual screenings, resulting in more diagnoses of cancer this year.

Another part of it, Caulfield said, is the lack of economic stability that many cancer patients are facing. The nonprofit helps with this by providing gasoline gift cards to the patients they help, with the goal of helping pay for the gas required for transport to appointments.

Caulfield said that part of their goal this year is to secure more sponsorships to help buy products for the care packages. “We have such a big job ahead of this year, we’ve found the need to really go to the community businesses,” she said.

This November will be the third annual event of assembling the care packages. Caulfield said that they’re anticipating a large turnout, and she wanted to highlight all of the work that the volunteers do both for that event and for everything the nonprofit does.

“What I wanted to do, and the team wanted to do, is really make sure that there’s a sense of community involvement on all levels,” Caulfield said.

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