No matter what football teams qualify for the Super Bowl, a local team will be going to the New Jersey Meadowlands, the site of this year’s game, on Jan. 27. Volunteers from the local branch of Basket of Hope, teaming up with Sean Payton’s Play it Forward and The Malcolm Jenkins Foundations, will join others from around the country to attend the Super Basket of Hope event. Local sponsors and volunteers are needed to help make the project a success.
The national and local BOH organizations provide baskets filled with inspirational materials to seriously ill children and their families. The child receives a basket filled with age-appropriate items like toys, games, music, movies and crafts.
Hope Totes are given to their family and include such items as encouraging books, inspirational materials, journals, gift certificates and comfort items to help support and strengthen them. The items are designed to nourish the entire family mentally, emotionally and spiritually as they journey through the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses.
NOLA branch coordinator Ann Ollendike spearheaded the foundation of the local organization after her daughter, Juliana, was hospitalized with a critical illness in 2008.
“My eyes were opened during that hospital stay and I saw their need to be strengthened and encouraged,” she said, “The idea is simple, people coming together from the community to bring the love of Christ to those who are feeling scared, alone and without hope.”
The national organization, founded in 1995, is sponsored by former NFL coach Tony Dungy’s Family Foundation, among others. Dungy serves as the organization spokesperson. The goal of the national event, which is held in coordination with each year’s Super Bowl, is to put together thousands of baskets that will be distributed to the Children’s Hospitals of NFL cities. The NFL has teamed with BOH since 2000.
Ollendike hopes to bring back 500 baskets for local delivery. Last year, Saints Coach Sean Payton and players Chris Chamberlain, Justin Drescher, John Jenkins and Will Herring helped make deliveries.
The NOLA branch sponsors drives and makes deliveries to local hospitalized children throughout the year. For example, in November, clubs at Fontainebleau High Schoolcollected more than 175 items used to assemble baskets for a Dec. 10 delivery.
Donors, either individuals or businesses, can sponsor a Super Basket of Hope for $50. Of course, donations of any amount are accepted and appreciated. Matched with donations from national sponsors, the value of each basket is $150. A secure, tax-deductible donation may be made by visiting www.superbasketsofhope.org, clicking on the “Make a Donation” icon at the top right of the page and choosing New Orleans in the drop-down menu. The webpage also includes a link to volunteer for the event.
For more information on the NOLA Basket of Hope organization follow the local branch location links at www.basketofhope.org.
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