One Hamden business is trying to make a difference in the lives of children who struggle with illness every day.
On June 15 the Academy of Kempo Martial Arts delivered 2 boxes full of toys, games and craft projects to The Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer and the Child Life Specialist-Pediatric Specialty Clinic at the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.
The items were donated to the academy’s “Help a Child Initiative,” an ongoing fundraising project for the academy since October 2009. Frank Ciarleglio, instructor at the academy, started the “Help a Child Initiative” program to help children with life threatening diseases.
The program is designed to collect items such as arts and crafts material for children as young as infants to 21 years old, he said. These items include Tempera Paints, sand art kits, bead kits, window painting kits, wood projects and jewelry kits.
"We are also collecting items that can be decorated, such as white tee shirts, white pillowcases, I-pod cases and cloth bags and general items needed to assist The Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer and the Child Life Specialist-Pediatric Specialty Clinic at the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital," he said.
"This is still one of our major goals with the program,” said Ciarleglio. “But because of the great response that we have had, the program has grown into much more -- we are also collecting toys, books, games and pretty much anything that a child can play with while they are undergoing treatments."
The program also collects donations so the Tommy Fund can continue to have a budget built in to purchase what is needed so the Child Life Specialist can work with the children who are undergoing cancer treatments, Ciarlegio said.
"Prior to 2010, there really was not a budget for arts and crafts, and all of the arts and crafts were donated," he said, "but because of the 'Help a Child Initiative,' the Tommy Fund was able to have a small budget for these items which have such an important impact with the children.
"The revenues also assist the Tommy Fund in continuing their research to find a cure for cancer and assist families that have children who are in a treatment program,” he said. "This fundraiser is to help provide the children who are going through treatments a little bit of serenity."
The children undergoing treatment either are admitted into the hospital or go to the Children’s Cancer Clinic. Their treatment time at the clinic can range anywhere from an hour to eight hours.
“Being a parent of a child who has undergone such treatment, I have seen firsthand the joy and relief from reality the children experience sitting at the craft table. The children play and laugh as they create something special,” said Ciarleglio.
The Academy has a list of items they are collecting, as well as a wish list from the Child Life Specialist-Pediatric Specialty Clinic on its web site, www.academyofkempo.com. All items can be dropped off at the Academy of Kempo Martial Arts, and donations made out to the Tommy Fund can be sent to the academy at 1890 Dixwell Ave., Hamden Connecticut 06514.
For more information on how to get involved, contact the Academy at (203) 288-9990, or visit them on the web at www.academyofkempo.com. Please note your check or on-line donation “Help a Child Initiative” so the Tommy Fund will know how to allocate your contribution.