By Angela Higginbotham
Founded in 2016, Halo Keepers has already made a huge impact in its short time for many children going through the unimaginable. The nonprofit charity is dedicated to enhancing the lives of children battling cancer by providing the comfort of a soft wig. The organization started when a few volunteers gave their time to make wigs for children at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville. The community support grew rapidly within St. Johns County/Jacksonville through networking and today, Halo Keepers has approximately 650 members. Dedicated volunteers have mailed at least 350 wigs to cancer-stricken children in many states and countries all over the world.
“The wigs are made from very soft yarn. The kids can play dress up with them or wear them as often as they like. We wanted to give these brave children a fun and beautiful option. Most of these children have hair loss or sensitive skin and are unable to wear traditional wigs. These kids go through so much on a regular basis, we just want to make them smile,” Halo Keepers founder, Heather Curtis said.
Halo Keepers is a tax exempt charity and new members are always welcome. The organization is in desperate need of volunteers who are able to crochet beanies, crowns, starfish and snowflakes. Patterns can be found on the Halo Keepers website and all of the beanies must be made with a soft yarn. Those interested in volunteering and learning the wig making process, also those who want to learn how to crochet, can join class on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Whole Foods in Mandarin.
“Initially, we purchased all of the soft yarn ourselves, but now much of it is donated or we receive donated gift cards, so that we can buy it. Corporate donors, monetary donations and yarn drives are all important ways to help provide the supplies needed to get these wigs out to the children,” Curtis said.
This year, in the United States alone, 13,500 children will be diagnosed with cancer. The taxpayer funded, National Cancer Institute (NCI), allows only 4 percent of the annual budget to the effort of finding a cure for childhood cancer. New treatments lack funding and therefore, may never have the opportunity to make an impact. Halo Keepers simply hopes to draw attention to childhood cancer research, while also giving a distraction to those who suffer from it.
Halo Keepers will proudly hold its first annual Princess and Superhero Ball on April 29, 2017. Children in the community who are battling cancer or are currently in remission, can enjoy the event with their families. The Princess and Superhero Ball is a magical event that the Halo Keepers organization hopes to become a yearly tradition for children in the St. Johns County / Jacksonville area for many years to come.
Visit www.halokeepers.org for more information and to help bring a smile to a young cancer fighter.
Photo courtesy Halo Keepers
Volunteers work on soft yarn wigs for young cancer patients