A Smile for Annabelle
Marsha Jordan

  

A tiny, two-year-old blonde,  recovering from surgical removal of her cancerous left eye, discovers in her mailbox a brightly colored package decorated with a big sticker of hugging bears under a rainbow. Tearing open the box , Belle exclaims "Mama, look, it's teddy bears!" The bears (and the goodie package of gifts) accomplish something that hadn't happened in quite a while: Annabelle smiles!

Belle’s smile was made possible by THE HUGS AND HOPE CLUB, founded by Marsha Jordan, a disabled grandma in Wisconsin. The program sends free "goodie" packages to children with life-threatening illnesses.

"Children shouldn't have to suffer," said Jordan "but unfortunately, many of them are very sick and have little joy in their lives. I wanted to reach out to them and bring them a little more happiness. I try to make them feel special by letting them know that they are cared about and prayed for."

The HUGS AND HOPE CLUB helps not only the children feel better, but their parents as well. Parents receive much needed moral support and encouragement from the club’s volunteers. Because most friends back away when a family has a sick child, the friendship offered by the club’s "Hug givers and Hope Restorers" means a great deal to discouraged parents. Parents appreciate knowing that club members are praying for their family. Through the club’s chat group, many endearing friendships are formed.

Often, through the efforts of "the club," families' financial needs are also met. This helps to relieve some of the stress of parents at a time when their child should be their only concern.

Members of the Hugs and Hope Club organize fund-raising benefits for families in financial need; and the group connects families with children’s charities and other organizations that offer help to pediatric cancer patients. Jordan considers the Hugs and Hope Club "A link between the families and those who can meet their needs." The club and its founder were recently honored as "Angel of the Month" on the Her Angels.com web site. The recognition goes to individuals and organizations that do outstanding work to help children.

Jordan has always cared about sick children and tried to help them. After she became disabled due to Lupus, she decided to organize THE HUGS AND HOPE CLUB in order to network with others who wanted to help too. The site is located at www.hugsandhope.com, and featured on it are pictures and stories of sick children. Many of them are terminal. Jordan asks visitors to the site to mail cards and small gifts.

The website features children from all over the world and receives hundreds of hits each day. The chat group allows families to communicate, sharing ideas and encouragement.

The Hugs and Hope program relies upon the support of individual volunteers and sponsoring organizations: the people who write to the children as well as those who donate to the cause in other ways.

Musicians contribute tapes and CD's of children's music, publishers donate books, quilters and sewers send blankets, dolls, and teddy bears.

"Anyone can help," Jordan said. "Whatever your talent, you can somehow use it to benefit suffering children or their families. Whether it's creating graphics for the website, organizing benefits to raise medical funds, or just sending an encouraging note to a discouraged parent or a Barney video to a child undergoing chemotherapy, it all helps; and it all makes a difference in the lives of these children."


Author, Marsha Jordan, is Founder of The HUGS AND HOPE FOUNDATION for Sick Children; the website is no longer functional, though.  She is a disabled grandma who lives in the north woods of Wisconsin with her husband of 26 years and their toy poodle, King Louie, who rules the household with an iron paw. Once an active volunteer in many scouting, school, community and church activities, Jordan was an energetic homeschooling mom who also worked as a secretary until her life took a sharp turn. Her busy schedule came to a screeching halt when she fell victim to an auto-immune disease which struck her blind for several months.  Through her Hugs and Hope Club, Jordan strives to send a message not just to suffering families, but to all people that we don’t have to face life’s problems alone.

  
    


 
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