By Noah Sheidlower
Phone in hand, junior Annie Cohen sends an email to a hospital in New York City to ask if she and her peers could partner with the hospital to help kids cope with childhood cancer. As soon as she sends the email, Cohen gets a text from a fellow volunteer asking for ideas about new creative ways to expand the charity and grow its online presence. After pitching her ideas, Cohen prepares the charity’s “chemo care kits” to send out to hospitals the following day, all of which evoking a feeling of fulfillment and generosity within her.
Cohen is on the executive board and decision-making committee for the charity Golden Heroes, founded by Cohen’s friend Eliana Berger last May. The charity aims to make the cancer experience as painless as possible through personalized care packages for children undergoing treatment or in remission from cancer.
“Our goal is for these kids to feel like the superheroes they are,” Cohen said. “The name comes from the fact that Gold is the color used to bring awareness to childhood cancers, and these children are our heroes due to how brave they are.”
Cohen became an active volunteer within the charity last October, joining because she felt that children affected by cancer were not receiving as much assistance from the community as needed to ensure their positivity. Specifically after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, Cohen felt the urge to participate more by reaching out to hospitals and cancer patients throughout the country and in Puerto Rico, providing aid to young children with cancer going through additional stresses of property damage.
Golden Heroes offers chemo kits for children ranging from newborns to young adults entering college. A typical kit may include blankets, socks, hats, stress balls, coloring books, headphones, and journals, all collected from donors or purchased using donated funds. In addition, the charity engages in special projects such as fundraising events and personalized boxes. Since Golden Heroes’ founding, the charity has partnered with over 20 businesses and organizations, donated to six major hospitals in the New York area, shipped out 200 personalized care packages, and delivered 50 kits to cancer patients in Puerto Rico.
“We currently ship packages across the country and occasionally to individuals in Canada or Mexico,” Cohen said. “In the future we hope to expand our hospital chemo care kit donations to hospitals outside of the New York area.”
Cohen and the rest of her eight-member team look to social media to expand such donations and outreach, frequently posting images of excited young children with their care packages. In addition, Golden Heroes has a blog with profiles of patients’ stories and wishes for the future. Cohen and some other members from the NYC area have given talks at local elementary schools, fundraising events, and career fairs – including one at South – to spread both stories of children impacted by this charity and the message Golden Heroes hopes to spread throughout the country.
To spread this message, Golden Heroes needs support from students and parents throughout the country; the charity needs interns to run and operate branches to manage fundraisers and alert the community of pediatric cancer as well as to pack chemo kits. Information regarding internship positions can be found at https://www.goldenheroes.org/.