Within days of COVID-19 hitting the country, Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada quickly re-invented ourselves to launch the Play From Hospital To Home Program. Designed to bring happiness into the homes and hospital rooms of seriously ill children, this emergency response program involved streaming virtual shows, delivering packs filled with toys, and more to provide smiles, laughter, and joy for vulnerable children stuck in isolation.
Now deeper into the pandemic, COVID-19 is threatening these families in ways beyond struggling to find their smile. They are struggling simply to get by.
A recent survey sent to 2,000 Starlight families across the country found that 68% of all families who participated have had a loss of income during COVID-19 and are now facing severe difficulties. Many were forced to temporarily leave their essential job, or reduce working hours, out of caution to protect their immunocompromised child.
While these struggles are ones that many across Canada are fighting, families with seriously ill children are already at war with stresses unimaginable. During these desperate times, many families had to reduce imperative special care and therapy for their child to help keep up with the cost of food, rent, and bills necessary for survival.
In response to these direct needs from our most vulnerable community during the pandemic, we are launching a new COVID-19 Family Relief Pack. While families feel helpless and children feel lonely, our COVID-19 Family Relief Pack is here to provide comfort, joy, and indeed, relief.
As an extension of our Play From Hospital To Home Packs, this new temporary program, born due to the direct challenges of the pandemic, will offer necessities for the entire family, such as gas cards, grocery cards, school supplies, and more. While isolated kids and teens enjoy crafts, toys, virtual shows, and countless other interactive activities, parents can find relief in knowing that they will have the necessary tools to care for their seriously ill child – from the cost of their next meal to the cost of gas for their next hospital visit.