In Jessica’s memory
Carbonear family donates dozens of gifts to Janeway Children’s Hosptial
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.
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.