5 Ways You Can Help Families Facing Childhood Illness

by Diane Smith, Executive Director

Time and time again we see how meaningful a small, loving gesture is to our Sunshine Families. If you know someone whose child is facing a serious illness, here are some ways to encourage them. 

1. Write them a note or send a text. 

It’s lonely and isolating to have a child with a long-term, serious illness. Long days in the hospital, a schedule packed with doctor or therapy visits and isolation from COVID have left many of our Sunshine Families feeling alone. Letting a family know you are thinking of them is a huge encouragement.

We’d also suggest setting a reminder on your phone to check in with them on a regular basis. Families often receive a lot of support when a diagnosis is first received, but then support wanes when illness stretches into months or even years. Letting them know you care is a blessing. 

2. Spend time with them. 

Ask them questions and allow them space to share about their struggles and frustrations. Don’t go with an agenda or offer advice. Just listen. Our families often feel very alone in their struggles. It will mean the world to them to have a friend stop and listen.  

3. Drop off a meal or a gift card

The families we serve are exhausted. Providing something as simple as a meal they can pick up on the way home from a day of medical appointments is incredibly helpful. 

When Spreading Sunshine volunteers dropped off a meal for a family facing childhood cancer, his mom was so grateful. It was on a day when Micah was at St. Jude receiving treatment. Their daughter Skye set everything up and a nice hot meal was laid out when Micah and his mom got home. She literally cried because she was so thankful to come home and not have to worry about what to feed her family.

Many medical families are crushed by medical bills and secondary bills that go along with getting the child the best treatment possible. Even if you can’t prepare a meal for them, a restaurant or grocery gift card shows you care and helps. 

4. Offer to do yard work or house cleaning. 

Medical families are overwhelmed with trying to care for their children while also carrying on with all of the usual, everyday tasks we all must accomplish. So many of our families are incredibly grateful for a helping hand that lightens the load. It’s an especially great time of year to offer to do a spring clean-up in their yard or spring cleaning in their house. 

5. Send them a Sunshine Box 

If you know someone who’s child is facing serious illness, send them a surprise Sunshine Box. A Sunshine Box is usually our first contact with a family. It’s often the start of an ongoing relationship that includes prayer support and other tangible assistance. Click on the button below to send a Sunshine Box.

One mom told us that “Thank you so, so much for the Sunshine Box!!! We had a tough week. Shelby has been begging not to go to the hospital. Crying saying she doesn’t want to be different: just really big feelings. This was amazing to receive.”

Our hope is that no family will face medical testing, doctor’s visits, and difficult diagnoses alone. Whatever way you choose to help a family. You’ll be spreading sunshine and be a source of encouragement and support to them.