Teens work to help cancer patients
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Nov 11, 2013 | 1169 views |  0 comments | 71 71 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Venecia Benefield Butler was once a teenager. She knows how they can sometimes get distracted and not think about the more important things in life.

She doesn’t believe that rings true with teenagers in Jacksonville, Piedmont and Spring Garden who have stepped up to the plate to help those affected by cancer.

Butler is leading the effort to make life easier for cancer patients. She’s formed Venecia’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides aid, support and comfort to cancer patients and their patients.

Butler knows what it’s like to have cancer, and she knows how it affects a family. She’s battled it four times herself.

The foundation does a number of things, including providing bags with helpful items to cancer patients. The bags include soft blankets, comedy DVDs, chap stick, gift cards, toothbrushes, queasy drops, crossword puzzle books, lotion, neck wrap and hydrating socks.

“These are some thing I know would help in chemo,” she said. “I also want to make sure every chemo chair has a portable DVD player and headphones.”

Butler said she appreciates those teenagers and sponsors who have helped out recently.

Spring Garden’s cheerleaders gave their share money from two football games to Venecia’s Foundation.

“We split the pot,” said cheerleader sponsor Christina Howard. “People buy a ticket for $1 at the games and, at halftime, we draw and whoever has the winning ticket gets half the money collected from the game. Usually cheerleaders get the other half. But we donated money, about $325, from two of the games to go to the foundation. The girls were very excited about doing it. They wanted to be able to take a part and help out.”

Spring Garden’s FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) sponsor Mandy Pope is proud of her students for their work in helping the foundation. They made a special effort to collect items for the chemo bags, donated money and worked at a 5K race to benefit the foundation.

“We like helping people,” said Pope. “That’s part of our club’s job is helping people in our community.”

The Piedmont High School Honor Society had several fund-raisers, including a one at Wal-Mart in Centre where they sold t-shirts. As shoppers entered the store, the students gave them a list of items needed for the chemo bags. They were happy with the number who purchased the items.

Meg Crane, honor society sponsor, said she’s proud of the students for helping.

“They continue to amaze me,” she said. Here they were at 7:45 on a Saturday morning out trying to help. They’re a very selfless group of students. It makes me really proud.”

Jacksonville Christian Academy Honor Society sponsor Jeff Moore, is equally proud of that school’s students for helping the foundation. At the 5K run on Oct. 5, the students helped serve breakfast, man the trail and direct traffic.

“We just did whatever we needed to do,” he said. We were glad to help.”

The Jacksonville State University softball team handed out drinks during the race.

Butler said she already knew how her own teenagers react to cancer. Now, it’s showed her how other teens react.

“I want to acknowledge these teenagers for thinking about somebody other than themselves,” said Butler. “I thought they were awesome. At the race, I just basically showed up. As far as the planning and organization, Brittany Heath Wilson and Randy Wilson and so many other volunteers made it happen. But Brittany was the master mind. She’s the one who put it all together and got it going. We had about 150 runners and walkers for the very first one. We’re hoping to have more next year.”

Butler said over $2500 was brought in from the run, which means that volunteers are able to pack more chemo bags.

“There’s still 200 patients in our area who go to Anniston or Gadsden,” she said. “We’ll get bags to them before Christmas.”

Butler welcomes anyone who wants to donate to or help pack the bags. She can be reached by email at veneciabutler@gmail.com or telephone at 452-5145.

Her book, “I’ve Got to Get Some Things Off My Chest,” can be purchased for $15 by sending a check to Venecia’s Foundation, P. O. Box 572, Piedmont 36272. T-shirts are also available.

Butler is available to speak to churches, schools, groups or organizations.

“I’m grateful for any support anyone gives to the foundation,” she said. “It’s a very worthy cause.”

Contact Margaret at pollya922@gmail.com.
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Teens work to help cancer patients by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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