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Kaneland Connection: PODA group packing up comfort, a bag at a time

Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 12:05 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 12:17 a.m. CDT

MAPLE PARK – When a family friend was stuck in a hospital fighting against cancer, Paige Gilson learned how important a simple bag filled with supplies could be.

Gilson, a junior at Kaneland High School, has adopted the “Comfort in a Canvas Bag” program for a group at the school – Prevention Of Dangerous Activities. Gilson is the president of PODA. Gilson and PODA group members have been assembling items into bags, which are meant to be distributed to cancer patients. Gilson said one bag has been delivered to a classmate at Kaneland who has been fighting cancer.

Gilson said the bags are often filled with a blanket, fuzzy socks and a notebook, among other items, “things that would make you feel appreciated and would make you forget you are in a hospital.”

Gilson said the family friend, Tammy White, died a few years ago, but Gilson said White enjoyed receiving the bag.

“It made her feel so loved and so happy,” Gilson said. “She wanted to start spreading that.”

Gilson said the PODA group previously had assembled the bags as a project but had not done it for a few years.

Gilson said she wanted to bring the project back, and she hopes that it will continue on.

“I hope we make this a tradition with Kaneland, even when I’m gone,” she said.

She said the group is looking to distribute 50 bags this year, and she said donations are welcome.

She said those interested in participating or helping in any way can email her at GilsonPaige@yahoo.com or PODA adviser Anna Lamica at Anna.Lamica@kaneland.org. Gilson said club members and other students will build the bags.

She said PODA has received help from the Kindness Campaign. She said the project brings her joy as well.

“I wanted to make this work again,” she said. “I wanted to help out and give the bags to them, and have them feel comfortable and feel loved. I wanted to see the happiness in their faces.”

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at alagattolla@shawmedia.com.

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