Charity provides a variety of help for those receiving cancer treatment.
A local organization that aids cancer patients is getting help from a youth movement. Light the Way Teens has been formed by Sarah Heaster, a junior at Spruce Creek High School, to assist Light the Way, formed in 2015 by her parents, Lewis and Angela Heaster, of Ormond Beach.
The organization helps cancer patients with daily needs such as housekeeping, transportation, meals, needed supplies and miscellaneous needs depending on the individual, such as taking care of pets.
After forming the teens group, Sarah sent out messages on Instagram to keep friends updated, and it spread to other schools, including Seabreeze High School and Father Lopez. Now students from throughout the area are involved.
“They are helping truly from the heart.”
DEB THOMAS, volunteer
“It’s very encouraging watching this group of teens come together for such an important cause,” Angela Heaster said. “Sarah has always been my right-hand man. Now she’s in a leadership position.”
The teenagers do a lot of the delivery and hands-on work such as gift wrapping or working at a dog wash.
Sarah has actually been involved with Light the Way since it began. She decided to get young people involved after learning how the children of a cancer patient were struggling. When someone is going through cancer treatments they often can’t keep up with work, so there are financial pressures.
It’s rewarding work, Sarah said.
“We’re showing them that the community cares about them,” she said.
They’ve had Christmas parties, supplying gifts for the family. One year, volunteers even put up a tree and Christmas lights at a home, along with supplying gifts. Afterward, the Heasters received a note from the patient thanking them, saying her 5-year-old had been afraid Santa would not come.
HOW IT BEGAN
Light the Way began after the Heasters lost a close family friend to cancer. Malka Altman, wife of their rabbi, Barry Altman, was like a second mother to Angela Heaster and a grandmother to Sarah.
Angela Heaster said she learned that during Altman’s treatment, she was helping other patients she met during chemotherapy sessions. This started Heaster thinking about all the things patients need, such as hot meals, cleaning house, etc.
Many patients have moved from up north and have no one to help them. Some have to take a bus to get treatment.
“There are so many things,” Heaster said. “Bills would pile up. Even co-pays are a lot.”
They now assist with everything that insurance will not pay for. Heaster likes to have the patient contact a social worker first, because they can often get them the help they need. Then, the social worker arranges help with Light the Way.
HELPING FROM THE HEART
Light the Way is structured under the Heaster Family Foundation. An all-volunteer agency, all donations go to help the patients.
“Without the volunteers, Light the Way would not be here,” Heaster said.
One volunteer, Deb Thomas, called it a wonderful organization.
“There’s a lot of love behind it,” she said. “They are helping truly from the heart.”
It started with an organizational event, where all of the businesses in the Gaslamp Shoppes on East Granada Boulevard donated profits for an evening. Brainstorming, they settled on Light the Way, to tie in with gas lamps. The Gaslamp Shoppes building is owned by the Heasters.
To raise money, they’ve had events such as bowl-a-thons and dog washes.
“When I put a shout-out on social media, the response is incredible,” Heaster said.
Find them on Facebook at Light the Way Volusia or on Instagram at 4teens.