Final weekend to help 'Pack the Bus' for Hope Lodge at Hy-Vee st - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Final weekend to help 'Pack the Bus' for Hope Lodge at Hy-Vee stores

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The Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, located in Iowa City, opened in the fall of 2008.   The 28-room home serves cancer patients (and their caregivers) going to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for outpatient care.  Those who stay at the Hope Lodge must live at least 40 miles from their treatment site, and they stay for free for up to six months.

An active volunteer with the American Cancer Society, Candy Nardini, organized "Pack the Bus' to provide items to the lodge that they use to help their patients daily.  The initiative has been going strong and supporting Hope Lodge for seven years now.  Nardini explains her passion for Hope Lodge.

"It's devastating to receive word you have cancer and then to hear your best treatment options are not available locally.  The Hope Lodge removed that layer of anxiety of cost of lodging by having cancer patients and their caregiver stay free in the lodge, for as long as they receive their outpatient treatment," said Nardini.

Nardini wanted to figure out a way to give to Hope Lodge as they have given to cancer patients in the Cedar Valley.  So the idea of 'Pack the Bus' came about.  Here's how it works.  During the month of October, American Cancer Society Relay for Life volunteers have been asking for donations from Hy-Vee shoppers by handing out a flyer with a list of suggested donations that the Hope Lodge could really use.  A clearly-marked shopping cart or bin is available for shoppers to leave their donations in after their shopping trip.

"My desire was to help defray the day-to-day costs of products the lodge used on a daily basis with their staff, volunteers, caregiver and cancer patients," said Nardini.

And her desire has become a true reality.  Yearly donations are estimated to be between $10,000 to $12,000.  And through donations the past seven years, Candy and her team have been able to fine-tune their process and have partnered with five area Hy-Vee stores the past two years.

On this year's list of items that would be appreciated are garbage bags (13 gallon with drawstrings), plastic bowls, sanitizer wipes and stainless steel cleaner, white wash cloths, gift cards, postage stamps, green hanging file folders, non-perishable food items, and small bingo prizes.  And cash donations are also now an option.

"This year, Hy-Vee has incorporated cashiers at check out, asking if shoppers would like to make a financial donation to the lodge in the amount of $1 or $5," said Nardini.  "These cash donations will be converted to Hy-Vee gift cards that cancer patients and caregivers can use for food or gas."

All five area Cedar Valley Hy-Vee stores are collecting donations, as well as Cedar Heights School, Unity Point Cancer Treatment Center, Power Manufacturing, and Expo Alterrnative Learning Center.  In fact, last year, the Expo student traveled to Hope Lodge and had the opportunity to see firsthand how their donations benefit the cancer patients and caregivers.

Candy and her husband collect all of the donations throughout the month and this year, on Monday, October 30, they will pack a donated Dolly's Party Bus and head to Iowa City to deliver the community's donations to Hope Lodge.

"This has been a rewarding experience for me because we have individuals here in the Cedar Valley who have benefited from staying at the Hope Lodge while receiving their outpatient cancer treatments."

If you're at Hy-Vee this weekend and want to help out in the Cedar Valley community in some way, help finish packing the bus full for the cancer patients and their caregivers at Hope Lodge.

Learn more about Hope Lodge here.

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