GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 24, 2012

Salvation Army-AGH pilot lifts cancer patients

GLOUCESTER — Some people may wonder where their money will go when throwing change into a Salvation Army red bucket; Cape Ann residents, wonder no more.

The Salvation Army teamed up with Addison Gilbert Hospital last year, and the results have proven winners for both agencies.

City Councilor Sefatia Romeo Theken, who started volunteering with the Salvation Army 15 years ago, helped spearhead the pilot program and has worked closely with Addison Gilbert’s oncology department. Together, both Romeo Theken and oncology nurse Joanne Gibbs have been raising funds for cancer patients both in and out of the hospital.

Gibbs said that AGH’s Lights of Love fund-raiser is in it’s fifth year and the response keeps getting better and better with $75,000 raised since it’s inception. The money goes toward patients of Gorton’s Specialty and Cancer Care Center within the hospital.

Romeo Theken then steps in after patients are out of the hospital and prepare for life lives after initial treatment. The Salvation Army, meanwhile, steers some of its kettle dive money to give out food vouchers and gift cards to families and patients suffering from cancer.

This year, more than 50 families received about $300 in gift cards and food vouchers, with the money collected by the local service unit of the Salvation Army goes straight back to patients and their families, she said.

She said that, between chemotherapy, radiation therapy and lack of short term disability, many patients are unable to work and need extra income.

“If you want to get better physically, you have to get better mentally,” Romeo Theken said. “It’s not going to pay their mortgage, but it will lift their spirits. The gifts were handed out around the same time last year, in order to bring new hope into the new year.”

Traci Gilliss, a 47-year-old Gloucester resident, can attest first hand how the program helps cancer patients.

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