SCHERERVILLE | Two local teens who set out to earn community service hours for school are helping bring comfort to cancer patients.
Andrean High School students Shoshana Zacharias, a senior from Dyer, and Stefani Molinaro, a sophomore from St. John, earlier this year helped out at a brunch for cancer patients that was hosted by Zacharias' mother, 2013 Mrs. Indiana titleholder Sandra Zacharias.
At the event, held at Briar Ridge Country Club, the teens distributed about 30 colorful Thirty-One brand backpacks, tote and utility bags filled with useful items. They also addressed the women about their personal experience with cancer, having both had family members and friends stricken.
The bags, which patients were urged to bring with them to keep busy and organized at doctor visits and treatment sessions, were loaded with calendars, tissues, crossword puzzles, lotion, magazines and lip balm. The teens shopped for the gift items themselves.
Zacharias said the idea came from her mother, who has battled breast cancer. "Whenever she would go out, she'd have a suitcase full of papers," she said. "She didn't have anything to keep her organized. We brainstormed and we figured that cancer patients need organized papers."
Sandra Zacharias said the stress of chemotherapy can make some people forgetful. Having a pre-packed bag of essentials is helpful, she added.
Shoshana Zacharias said she enjoyed patients' reactions to the bags. "It was nice to talk to them and hear their stories," she said. "You can help anyone in any way. It doesn't matter what you do. The smallest thing helps."