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Holiday shoppers raise $300 for cancer patients’ ‘Heart Love Bags’

Marysville resident Tracy Anderson wants to give her fellow cancer patients physical tokens of support, but in order to do that she needs more money.

Anderson was able to raise approximately $300 toward her “Heart Love Bags” program by staging a “Holiday Shopping With a Cause” fundraiser, Dec. 7, at Lake Stevens Books.

“It’s a very tiny, cramped place, but we had quite a few shoppers,” Anderson said. “The owners don’t normally open on Sundays, but they’re very open to helping the community.”

Anderson aims to help her segment of the community by assembling Heart Love Bags, created by and for cancer patients to assist them through their treatment and recovery process.

For her first 200 bags, Anderson used Google to search for the items that she wanted to include in the bags, and then sent e-mails to various groups asking if they’d be willing to donate those items.

The Providence Regional Cancer Partnership, where Anderson volunteers, not only hosted the assembly of the bags Nov. 7, but has also allowed her to distribute the bags to all newly diagnosed chemo and radiation patients since Nov. 10.

Anderson explained the value of each item included in the “Heart Love Bags,” starting with the “Livestrong” bracelets, which allow cancer patients and their loved ones to show their support for others who are undergoing, or have gone through, cancer treatment.

To relieve the dry mouth and mouth sores caused by chemo, the bags contain no-alcohol Biotene mouth care products and Chamomile tea. To calm queasy stomachs, the bags also contain ginger candy and anti-nausea lollipops and candy. Women’s knitted hats and men’s baseball caps are included to keep chemo patients’ heads warm, while lip balm soothes the dry lips that are also a symptom of chemo. Energy bars and organic chocolate provide quick boosts, while journals allow patients to keep track of their experiences. Anti-bacterial lotion helps patients stay strong by avoiding germs, and paperback books give them something to occupy their idle hours. A greeting card, designed by a Lake Stevens senior citizens card class, and an inspirational DVD, compiled from photos contributed by cancer survivors, are included to lift patients’ spirits. The bag itself is reusable.

Looking to the future, Anderson is already planning follow-up fundraisers for the Heart Love Bags in the spring of 2009, and she’s hoping to hit up her hometown for donations the next time.

To learn more about Heart Love Bags, you may log onto their Web site at www.heartlovebags.org.

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