What We Do

to support our families

Candlelighters NYC helps kids fighting cancer. Kids from all over the world come to New York City to receive the best pediatric cancer treatment available. We provide a support system full of fun and comfort while they are so far away from home.

Here are some of the specific ways we support our families:

Strollers

Families arrive from all over the world for the best treatment for their children in NYC, but they arrive with no strollers or only cheap umbrella strollers. Families must push their kids in strollers to and from the hospital every day and all over the New York City bumpy streets. The strollers we provide are top of the line City Joggers. They are light but comfortable for the kids, since so many have just had very painful treatment.

Family Support

Families call our Candlelighters family before they arrive in NY. They are scared, coming alone to a big city, the unknown. We speak on the phone and reassure them that we will be with them all the way in NYC. We then ensure to meet them in person as soon as they arrive. Candlelighters families are given all of our volunteer’s cell phone numbers upon their arrival, so that they can contact us at any time.

Hospital Support

We sit with families during surgery, scans, and in-patient stays. We bring blankets, pillows, toiletries, comfort food, activities, or anything they may need to make their life easier.

Clothing

Sometimes families arrive with one suitcase and end up staying for months. They don’t always have the proper clothing for cold NYC winters, nor the money to buy new. We help provide needed items such as coats, boots, hats, gloves.

Babysitting

We provide free babysitting for the kids so mom, or mom and dad, can have a break, for both inpatient and outpatient children.

Friendship

We are not just volunteers, we are friends. We are a shoulder to cry on, a person to confide in, a big hug when needed. We are a fun distraction from the daily hospital routine.

Food gift cards

When possible, we provide food gift cards to families to help pay for the expensive meals in NYC. This includes funds for food from local grocery stores or restaurants.

Birthday Parties

Birthdays are so important to kids, but even more so to kids who are fighting cancer. We assure that each child will have a celebration if they are in NYC on their birthday. Through our partners, we are able to provide elaborate birthday cakes, and have big parties with presents Candlelighters purchases for the kids. We include other cancer fighters, siblings, and parents in these parties, and make sure our kids feel special on their birthday.

Holiday Parties

Many families end up away from home on major holidays, and the kids are worried that there won’t be any celebration. Candlelighters assures them that there is nothing to worry about; holidays will be celebrated.

Examples:

  • Halloween- Parties donated by Sugar Factory and Maz Mezcal with costumes bought at Party City
  • Christmas- Santa Visit at Bloomingdales with Lunch at Venieros
  • Thanksgiving Day- Parade viewing inside with breakfast served
  • Fourth of July- fireworks viewing
  • NYE- ball drop party with champagne for parents

Central Park Concerts

We are close friends with the Central Park Police, and this allows us VIP access to all Central Park concerts. Some of the most popular are the Good Morning America concert series, New York Philharmonic, and Global Citizens Music Festival.

Special Events

The Fire Department of New York provides fireboat rides with a water show. Bagpipers at the Statue of Liberty, Central Park Police allow our kids to become Deputies and attend Roll Call

Gifts for the kids

Around Christmas and Chanukah time, we run a large Secret Santa program to ensure that every child receives special gifts for the holidays.

Museum/Zoo Passes

We provide free passes to The MOMA, The Whitney Cooper Hewitt, The Central Park Zoo, and The Bronx Zoo and Aquarium.

Introducing families

One of the most important things that we do is introduce families with similar diagnoses. It is nearly impossible to understand what you are going through when your child is diagnosed with cancer. By introducing families, they begin to develop support systems who truly understand exactly what they are going through, and can provide support and advice through such a difficult time.

One of the friends we never would have made it through without – our dear friend Barbara. Barbara took us under her wing – waited on us – shopped for us – brought us special treats- gave us hugs – lots of love – gave me “mom” time away for beauty treatments and special lunches. She also treated Shannon to many “birthday” parties at our favorite restaurant, Mez Mescal on 86th street. Shannon would wear a sombrero on her head, speak all the Spanish words she knew, and flirt with the Mexican waiters that brought her as many candied cherries as she could eat. At the end of the meal – they would sing “Happy Birthday” in Spanish and watch Shannon blow out the candles on a Mexican treat. Oh – the memories – they flow freely and constantly. There are very few moments in my days – that memories such as these are not on my mind. The memories are precious and everlasting – fresh glimpses in a life with Shannon – not perfect , not without suffering and hardship, but beautiful in spite of all that.

Shannon’s Mom