Kings Fork Middle School-Hats Off For Cancer

Front Page Summary: 

A Small TSA Chapter in Suffolk, Virginia, Makes a Big Difference in the Lives of Local Children

                                                                                      The Kings Fork Middle School Technology Student Association in Suffolk, Virginia, recently completed an amazing service project by collecting 271 hats for the Hats Off for Cancer campaign.
Ms. Deb Shapiro, TSA advisor said, “my students wanted to complete a philanthropy project that would be in keeping with the American Cancer Society that National TSA supports. They wanted to do something to compliment ACS, but wanted it to hit home with kids.”

“ I had seen Tara Lawerence, founder of the Hats Off For Cancer organization, on the Montel Williams show a couple of years ago and thought her Hats off for Cancer program was a wonderful way to get my students involved. When I showed the video of her to my students they jumped on the chance to help out,” Ms. Shapiro said.

According to the Hats Off For Cancer website, Tara Lawrence knew she had to turn a negative and devastating situation into a positive one after losing her grandfather to prostate cancer in 1992. She began volunteering with the American Cancer Society in 1994. Tara was able to meet and talk with children who were battling cancer or who were cancer survivors. One common statement was repeated during each conversation, the children did not like losing their hair due to their cancer treatments. That was the beginning of Hats Off For Cancer.

In 1996, Tara began a national letter writing and telephone campaign asking for donations from local and national companies, public officials, celebrities, schools and civic organizations. Through the next year, newspapers, magazines and television news shows interviewed Tara about her program. Eleven years and more than 690,000 hats later, donations continue to pour in helping hundreds of thousands of deserving children.

TSA Advisor Deb Shapiro felt connected the Hats Off For Cancer program in many ways. She said that her husband had survived childhood cancer and through research, she learned that Hats Off For Cancer founder, Tara Lawrence and she had been in the same college sorority albeit at difference universities. The Kings Fork Middle School TSA chapter is in its third year, and the hat drive had taken nearly that long to complete. “My 10 students completed two hat drives and my son Benjamin, a sixth grader at Kings Fork Middle School, and I delivered 271 hats to the Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia August 11th. We were able to visit the floor of the oncology department and peak through the windows to see where the hats would be given to the kids.” Beth Bowling, the Volunteer Coordinator at CHKD, was very grateful for the donation.

The TSA chapter members used posters, announcements during school, and sent emails to teachers to advertise the hat drive. “We got other schools in the district involved and received donations from high school sports teams and various other school clubs. We came up with a ‘Put Your Thinking Cap On Day’ for students and teachers who had donated a hat so that they got to wear their own hat on Friday before semester exams. The students and teachers had a lot of fun with this idea,” Ms. Shapiro said.
Ms. Shapiro said that her chapter wants to continue service project efforts specific to the cancer patients at Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters. “Certainly around the holidays it would be great to collect other donation for the kids and to let them know someone is thinking of them.”