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Easing the pain — ward unites, creates project

Activity bags given to children traveling for medical treatment

FRANKLIN, IDAHO

It was while watching her daughter's Girl Scout Leader make bags for camp that Katie Eavenson came up with her idea.

Julie Crosgrove helps her children Brianna, 11, and Spencer, 13, sew the travel bags together for children traveling long distances to Primry Childrens Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
Julie Crosgrove helps her children Brianna, 11, and Spencer, 13, sew the travel bags together for children traveling long distances to Primry Childrens Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Photo: Photo by Rod Boam

These bags could be used for something else. As she looked at the bags she thought of filling them with games and sending them to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City. She knew from personal experience that they would be loved by children who travel long distances away from home and everything familiar to receive treatment at the hospital.

Since January 2007, Primary Children's Medical Center has been important to the Eavenson family of the Franklin 1st Ward, Franklin Idaho Stake. It was on Jan. 4 that Sister Eavenson's daughter, 6-year-old Canyon, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). While this is a very scary disease, the doctors offered a good prognosis in consideration of her age and the white count in her blood. Once diagnosed, treatment began.

This included six months of intense Chemotherapy followed by maintenance doses for two years. At present the olive skinned, dark haired six-year old with penetrating blue eyes takes chemo pills daily, steroids five days a month, and a dose of chemo once a month when she returns to Primary Children's. Needless to say, the Eavensons have spent a lot of time in the hospital.

"Through it all she never complained, she was a real trouper and that made the experience a lot easier. She wore a lot of hats," her mother said with a laugh. She will be done with treatments in March of 2009. "The people at Primary's are so good, they make it so much easier."

Jan. 4, 6 year-old Canyon Eavenson was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Jan. 4, 6 year-old Canyon Eavenson was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Photo: Photo by Rod Boam

The children's hospital on the east bench of Salt Lake City serves five states in the Intermountain West. Children from Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Montana can be admitted to the 235 bed medical facility, which is staffed and equipped to treat children with complex illnesses and injuries.

Sister Eavenson knew her ward's Relief Society was working on their calendar and looking for a service project they could sink their teeth into.

As a mother who takes a child to do something they don't want to do, she thought it might be nice to have something the children can do on their drive to the hospital. She told the Relief Society sisters about the travel bag idea.

The women embraced the idea and Sister Eavenson called Primary Children's Hospital for their permission to donate the bags.

The goal was to make 100 bags. The Young Women organization paired up with the Relief Society as they worked together to cut out the fabric and sew the bags.

Like other people in their ward, Julie Crosgrove volunteered herself and her children to help sew travel bags. She set up a couple of sewing machines in her living room where her children could sew pieces of fabric together for the project. The sturdy fabric bags have clear, plastic resealable bags as organizers to hold the games and toys.

"This is just the beginning, making 100 travel bags, we could make a lot more, if the financing and donations from companies were there," said Randy Sharp, bishop of the Franklin 1st Ward.

Janet Jeppson, second counselor in the Relief Society who is supervising the project, said they contacted all of the American toy manufactures they could find by e-mail. Sister Jeppson said the ones who did respond were very generous.

Travel bags have games for children to play with as they travel.
Travel bags have games for children to play with as they travel. Photo: Photo by Rod Boam

Sister Eavenson's contact with Primary Children's, Emmie Gardener, gave the travel bag project a positive response to the service idea.

"We thought it was a creative and cool idea to help patients who travel long distances. We appreciate their thoughtfulness. We think the people up there have come up with a nice way to help these kids," Ms. Gardener said.

Ward members gathered June 19 to stuff the bags for delivery to the hospital this month.

"It was good for the ward to be involved in a project that could help the family and benefit others," said Bishop Sharp.

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