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Group supports families with ill children
Glenn County's Just for Children works quietly to help the families of children with life-threatening illness.
For the past 17 years, the organization has felt the joy of seeing many children recover from cancer, birth abnormalities, diabetes and other diseases.
They've also felt the sorrow of many deaths.
"A child's illness can take a huge toll on a family," said Pat Martin, who hosted the annual Just for Children luncheon, fundraiser and fashion show on Saturday. "It is our goal to help with what we can."
A sold-out crowd of about 250 people attended the event at St. Dominic's parish hall in Orland.
"It's always wonderful," said Terry Taylor-Vodden of Willows, who has attended the event the past five years. "It is such a worthy cause."
The luncheon raised about $7,000 for the organization, which assists Glenn County families with expenses not covered by medical insurance, mostly with gas and meals associated with taking their children to and from hospitals and treatment.
The organization also helps with energy bills and provides phone cards, and in some cases, special pieces of equipment, Martin said.
"These ladies are our angels in the world," said Gabby Santos.
Two of her three daughters, Daniella and Fernanda, have a rare inherited metabolic disorder that results in the slow destruction of the central nervous system and eventually death.
Santos said Just for Children has stood by her family throughout the life of her oldest daughter, 12, now believed to be the oldest child in the world still alive with the condition.
Santos' youngest daughter, 2, is also affected.
April Pack said when her son developed a rare infection known as Lemierre's syndrome, the expense of traveling and staying in Sacramento where he was hospitalized would have been devastating without the help of Just for Children.
Pack broke down in tears as she spoke about the organization helping with gas, but also hotel expenses for her husband Aaron to stay the first four days of their son's illness.
"It was hard enough financially for my husband to take time off work," Pack said. "There was no way he could have been there for our son if it were not for Just for Children."
Despite the camaraderie of the Saturday's event, there were few dry eyes when Just for Children families spoke.
Most said they had never heard of the organization until a physician or hospital offered to make the referral.
"I don't know what we would have done without them," said Jackie May, who takes care of twin grandsons, one of whom has a disability. "They not only help with gas, but they are always there for moral support."
Referrals can also be made by local agencies, churches and schools, said Just for Children member Kathy Baker.
In addition to the luncheon, guests enjoyed shopping at a a gift bazaar and participated in raffles.
Just for Children member Marsha Foster said Glenn County's business community has been very supportive in their donations.
"Everything goes back into the county," Foster said.
Christine Camacho, owner of La Perla Tapatia in Orland, has been donating to Just for Children for many years.
She's attended the luncheon the past four years.
"This is one event I look forward to every year," she said. "I can't wait for it. This organization does so much for these families. It's very touching."
Just for Children has raised about $185,000 since it first started in 1995, and has helped more than 220 Glenn County families, Martin said.
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or email@example.com.