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Hoping to help in face of cancer

MOUNT VERNON--Being diagnosed with cancer is never easy. But the Mount Vernon chapter of Modern Woodmen of America's Junior Kids Club is hoping to help people going through those difficult times The club, comprised of about 24 area children, unde...

Members of the Mount Vernon chapter of Modern Woodmen of America's Junior Kids Club show off Kleenex boxes they decorated with words of encouragement for the Avera Cancer Institute in Mitchell. Pictured clockwise from back left are, Sidney Malde, 9, Stacey Malde, Noah Malde, 12, Logan Strand, 6 and Sabrina Strand, 8, all of Mount Vernon. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Members of the Mount Vernon chapter of Modern Woodmen of America's Junior Kids Club show off Kleenex boxes they decorated with words of encouragement for the Avera Cancer Institute in Mitchell. Pictured clockwise from back left are, Sidney Malde, 9, Stacey Malde, Noah Malde, 12, Logan Strand, 6 and Sabrina Strand, 8, all of Mount Vernon. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

MOUNT VERNON-Being diagnosed with cancer is never easy.

But the Mount Vernon chapter of Modern Woodmen of America's Junior Kids Club is hoping to help people going through those difficult times

The club, comprised of about 24 area children, undertook a project to provide the Avera Cancer Institute in Mitchell with boxes of Kleenexes adorned with words of encouragement, drawings and positive sayings.

"I had just happened to be at a couple of appointments with some friends here, and they get diagnosed with cancer and there wasn't a tissue to be found in the room, so I just said, 'That's it, we have to do something,' " said Junior Club Leader Stacey Malde, of Mount Vernon.

So, with an allotment of money set aside by Modern Woodmen of America for the club's community service projects, Malde and the Junior Kids Club spent time at their monthly meetings for the last several months decorating the boxes with encouraging phrases like "Praise God, He is with you."

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Some even chipped in with humor, for example "Kick cancer in the face-like a boss!" The group dropped off four cases of the Kleenexes at the Cancer Institute in early November and the boxes can been seen inside many of the offices throughout the building.

"We just hope that these notes, some of them will just help people process things. Some hopefully will make them giggle or laugh because some of them are kind of funny," Malde said. "But it's just something to just try to give people a little encouragement."

Malde added that just donating boxes of tissues wasn't enough and the group wanted to find a way to take the focus off of a situation that changes a person's life.

"It's one thing to just have a plain box of kleenexes, but to have a note of encouragement while people are sitting there waiting, just gives them something to talk about and focus on versus waiting for dreadful news," she said.

The project hit home for both Malde, whose mother has had breast cancer, and other kids involved with various family members who have battled or are battling cancer; One boy's mother died from leukemia within the last few years.

"It really hit home for a lot of us doing this," Malde said. "Cancer affects everybody somehow."

Although a serious topic for kids aged 5 to 14, the kids had fun coming up with phrases and pictures to put on the boxes, "especially when we got out the glitter and glue," Malde said with a laugh.

As for the future, Malde said she hopes the group is able to contribute the Kleenex boxes to the Avera Cancer Institute once a year.

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"I guess we'll see what kind of response we get, but I think it's something that we'll hopefully try to do every year about this time and probably bring the same amount. And if there's a bigger need for that and they run out before then, I would hope they would let me know and we'll figure something out," Malde said. "This isn't a big deal, but sometimes it's the little things you can do for someone else that can really mean something."

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