Albion 8th-graders present 70 ponchos, 100 pillows to benefit breast cancer patients

Posted 23 October 2015 at 12:00 am

Provided photos – Student Mykaela Hill presents one of the pillows the class made to Dr. Supriya Mohile at UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute at Highland Hospital in Rochester.

Press Release, Wilmot Cancer Institute at University of Rochester Medical Center

ROCHESTER – During a reception today at Pluta Cancer Center, eighth-graders from Carl I. Bergerson Middle School in Albion presented 70 ponchos they made in their Family and Consumer Science class for women who are facing breast cancer.

The students today also presented 50 pillows to both the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester and UR Medicine’s Highland Hospital.

Seventeen students from Albion Middle School presented – and modeled – ponchos for patients undergoing radiation therapy at Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Pluta Cancer Institute in Henrietta.

The ponchos are more comfortable than a hospital gown and help women feel more secure and cozy while undergoing radiation therapy that breast cancer patients often receive daily for five to seven weeks.

The pillows help provide underarm support where lymph nodes have been removed and also help increase comfort for patients in other ways.

Kimberly Toombs, the class’s teacher, gratefully received a poncho from Pluta and pillows from BCCR and Highland Hospital during her treatment, which began after she was diagnosed in 2014.

Judy Zeeman-Golden (left), social worker and poncho project organizer at Pluta Cancer Center, poses with Kimberly Toombs, family and consumer science teacher at Albion Middle School and breast cancer survivor.

Having sewing skills as a family and consumer science teacher, she wanted to give back to the projects that had helped her. This was music to the ears of Judy Zeeman-Golden, a social worker at Pluta who manages the Poncho Project.

“The Pluta Cancer Foundation buys the fabric for the ponchos but what’s hard is making sure I have enough sewers to keep the project going. Until Kim came along, I was constantly scratching my head,” Zeeman-Golden said. “Kim has been this gift from the poncho gods. She kept busy while recovering by making ponchos, then got her class involved. She knew how wonderful it was to have because she’d been given one.”

Toombs says getting her class involved in this project not only helps those affected by breast cancer but also provides a valuable service learning opportunity for the students.

“Service learning engages the students in that it allows them to become actively involved in projects,” Toombs said. “When they have the ability to make something that will help someone else, it becomes personal to them.”

The tag that will be attached to each poncho to inform the recipient who created them.