We have spoken to the parents of children diagnosed with cancer. Many of them are scared, but not just about the health of their child. They are scared that their child is losing their childhood to hospitals and medical treatments. The gift bag program from Cancer Recovery is designed to help children recapture their childhood whilst they stay in hospital.

What is the gift bag program?

Helping children to remain positive throughout their cancer treatment is essential to their well being but can be hard. They need toys and books to distract them from their fears, to allow them to interact with each other, and to express their feelings.

To help make this possible, we send children staying in hospitals and hospices across the UK, our Bear-able Gift Bags, containing a selection of craft kits, toys, puzzles and games with different options making them suitable for children aged 0-18 years old. All of these gifts go directly to paediatric wards, with our Easter, Summer and Christmas deliveries, reaching thousands of sick children and making them smile.

To find out how the gifts make a difference you can view past thank you notes and cards from children and hospitals here. 

Zoe, Gemma and Kate

How are the gift bags used?

The gift bags are used by hospital staff to encourage the children to interact with the staff during treatment and to express their feelings about their cancer treatment. This can be particularly important as children often retract and act younger than they are, relying more on their parents and siblings during an illness. Many of the gift bags contain finger or hand puppets to encourage maximum interaction between the children and their family or hospital staff, particularly the play specialists.

Other popular uses for the gift bags include them being given as a reward after a unpleasant or scary treatment. Hugs the bear our Children’s Project mascot has also been used to show children how to lay down for an MRI or CT-scan with the teddy given to the child as a treat to cuddle during the scans.

Who receives the gift bags? Can I check my local hospital is involved?

We can only supply Gift Bags to hospitals with a pediatric cancer unit or a hospice that cares for children, so it may be possible that your local hospital is unable to participate in the program. However if the hospital/hospice is not on our distribution list and has a childrens unit, they can simply get in touch with our Children’s Project Team to see if they are eligible for our next Gift Bag delivery. If you are a current member of staff within a children’s unit that is not already featured on the list above, simply fill out this enquiry form and we will contact you with details of how to participate in the next gift bag order.

Can I donate toys or games to the Bear-able Gift Bag program?

If you are an individual, it is possible for you to donate certain toys or games to the gift bag program however they must be new and still in their original packaging. But we regret that we cannot accept second hand soft toys for the gift bags, any we do receive will be used for fundraising purposes as raffle prizes etc. at our events.

If you are unable to send us parcels you are also able to make a donation towards purchasing a Hugs bear or a complete gift bag for a child, which will then be sent out as part of our next delivery.

If you are a business and would like to work in partnership with us to promote a new toy product or game, we would also love to hear from you. Any sample products or free items from old stock lines would also be appreciated. It would make a huge difference to us and the children.

How can I support the Bear-able Gift-Bag program?

You can help support the Gift -Bag program, through fundraising for or making a donation to the Cancer Recovery Foundation. Or you could hold your very own toy drive and ask each of your friends to bring along one new toy for a child in hospital.