In Jes­sica’s mem­ory

Car­bon­ear fam­ily do­nates dozens of gifts to Janeway Chil­dren’s Hosp­tial

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Meg­gan Oates was only seven years old when her three-year-old sis­ter Jes­sica passed away from neu­rob­las­toma, a rare form of can­cer. Since that tragic pe­riod, Meg­gan has been look­ing for the per­fect way to hon­our Jes­sica’s mem­ory.

“I had wanted to do some­thing for a cou­ple of years,” Meg­gan said re­cently.

At the end of Oc­to­ber, the 21-year- old Car­bon­ear na­tive found the per­fect way. It was while at work at Ameco Ser­vices when a light bulb went off.

“I just sat down at work and de­cided I wanted to do some­thing for kids be­sides rais­ing money, be­cause I’m not re­ally into that,” said Meg­gan.

The Oates fam­ily had reg­u­larly made do­na­tions to the Janeway since Jes­sica’s pass­ing in 1999, how­ever Meg­gan was look­ing for some­thing more im­me­di­ate.

What she set­tled on may have had a more pro­found ef­fect than rais­ing money.

Meg­gan came up with the idea of col­lect­ing gifts for chil­dren at the Janeway Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, as well as the nurs­ery at Car­bon­ear Hos­pi­tal.

A plaque is also be­ing given in Jes­sica’s hon­our. The fam­ily col­lected $ 1,000 in do­na­tions and $ 300 in McDon­ald’s gift cards.

Goal in hand, Meg­gan started ap­proach­ing her fam­ily and friends for do­na­tions. What she re­ceived was bet­ter than she could have imag­ined.

As of Dec. 4, Meg­gan had col­lected over 200 gifts, and they were still com­ing in prior to their sched­uled visit to the Janeway on Dec. 5. “It’s phe­nom­e­nal,” said Meg­gan. It was a full month of Christ­mas pa­per and tap­ing for Meg­gan and her mother Chris­tine, with some donors drop­ping off up to six gifts.

The event was called “Jes­sica’s Mag­i­cal Christ­mas Me­mo­rial,” and Meg­gan wants to con­tinue the tra­di­tion ev­ery year.

Al­ways smil­ing

Jes­sica was born on Feb. 24, 1996. When she passed away, it was just un­der a month un­til her third birth­day. Two things stick out for Chris­tine when she re­mem­bers her de­ceased daugh­ter.

“She was en­er­getic, and she was al­ways smil­ing,” noted Chris­tine.

Jes­sica spent her last Christ­mas at the Janeway, and this is part of the rea­son the gifts were do­nated to the chil­dren who are stay­ing there.

“I’m very proud of her,” Chris­tine said of Meg­gan’s ef­forts.

Christ­mas is about spend­ing time with fam­ily and cher­ish­ing those mo­ments. More of­ten than not, the chil­dren at the Janeway spend Christ­mas dif­fer­ently. They spend time with fam­ily, but it is in a hos­pi­tal bed.

On Dec. 5, Chris­tine and Meg­gan brought Santa Claus with them, and they wore red Santa hats.

“I want to make it a happy day,” Meg­gan said prior to the hos­pi­tal visit. “As hard as it is go­ing to be, it is go­ing to be a happy day.”

“We can cry af­ter,” added Chris­tine. “What­ever we can do to pull them out of that en­vi­ron­ment.”

When asked what Jes­sica would have thought of what her big sis­ter was do­ing in her mem­ory, Chris­tine had a sim­ple re­sponse.

“She’d be very proud.”

Meg­gan Oates (left) poses for a photo with Santa Claus at the Janeway Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in St. John’s on Dec. 5. Be­hind them is a small sam­pling of the gifts Meg­gan and her fam­ily col­lected for the chil­dren at the hos­pi­tal as a part of “Jes­sica’s Mag­i­cal Christ­mas Me­mo­rial,” held in hon­our of her sis­ter Jes­sica who passed away in 1999.

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