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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Students mail holiday cards to cancer patients

Young cancer patients all over the country will be getting a little extra cheer this holiday season in the form of a greeting card. The UF chapter of Friends for Life of America kicked off its annual Hearts for the Holidays campaign Tuesday on Turlington Plaza.

Stocked with armfuls of colorful paper, markers, stickers and glitter, members enlisted the help of students passing through to make holiday-themed cards to send to children in hospitals.

“It’s a nice thing to do over the holiday season, giving back to people,” said Sam Moltke, a UF sophomore who made a card Tuesday.

Friends for Life, a national organization that arranges events and fundraisers to benefit pediatric cancer patients and their families, has about 30 active members at UF, said Bernadette Guzman, a health education senior and club president.

Of those members, she said about half of them are involved with Hearts for the Holidays. The group pulls in enough volunteers to produce 2,000 to 3,000 cards each year.

The goal of the campaign is to send holiday cards to at least one hospital in every state. Friends for Life keeps a running list of participating hospitals and tries to accommodate them by making as many cards as possible, since some hospitals ask for up to 250 cards at a time.

Guzman said sometimes it’s difficult to make sure every state is covered and that there are enough cards to go around.

Some sororities and fraternities get involved as part of community service projects as well, Hearts for the Holiday chair Larissa Roberts said.

Roberts, a UF sophomore, became active in the organization last year along with her sister, who had cancer at the time. When her sister died earlier this year, Roberts decided to apply for the position of event chair for the Hearts for the Holidays campaign.

“It’s really close to my heart,” she said. “I’m trying to get everyone I can to participate.”

The Hearts for the Holidays card-making station will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday on Turlington Plaza, and there will be a Hearts for the Holidays booth at Gator Nights on Friday.

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