SANDPOINT — There are few things more distressing and financially taxing than a cancer diagnosis.
Not only do many people have to quit work to focus on treatments — they also have a bevy of medical expenses to handle. The overwhelming impact can leave some families at a loss. That’s why organizations like Community Cancer Services are so important, according to the participants of the latest Leadership Sandpoint class.
Unfortunately, budget cuts have forced CCS to scale back its gas voucher program. In response, Leadership Sandpoint is stepping up to limit that impact with the Got Gas campaign this August. Today from 2-5 p.m., class participants will be collecting donations at Super 1, Winter Ridge, Safeway, Yokes and Walmart to bolster the program. They’ll be manning booths and wearing custom T-shirts that read “I’ve got gas,” so they’ll likely make an impression, CCS executive director Jessica Martin said.
“They should be pretty easy to spot,” she added.
For those who won’t be dropping by a grocery store today but still want to help the cause, donations will be accepted throughout August at Panhandle State Bank, the Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry Super 1 locations and the CCS office. People can also donate online at www.communitycancerservices.com. All money collected will be used to benefit cancer patients in Bonner and Boundary counties.
“If you donate a nickel, a nickel goes to buy gas,” said Leadership Sandpoint participant Eric Grace. “If you donation $5,000, then $5,000 goes to buy gas.”
The Leadership Sandpoint goal is to raise $10,000 for Community Cancer Services gas cards by the end of the month. As a group designed to educate local leaders on the nature and needs of their community, fundraising is an important component of their efforts. According to Grace, group members decided to focus some of their work on CCS because of the pervasive nature of cancer.
“Cancer is one of those diseases that just about everyone will be affected by, whether it be you directly or one of your loved ones that suffers from it,” he said.
Leader-ship Sandpoint identified gas assistance as one CCS program in particular need. Since travel expenses are a major burden for many cancer patients, who sometimes need to take several trips to Spokane a week for chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Since those trips can cost as much as $30 or $40 per trip in gas, the costs add up quickly.
“If you think about not having an income and then having this major additional expense, it’s just crazy,” Martin said. “I’ve said it before, but you can’t budget for cancer.”