Fight Bags, an organization that puts together care packages for those undergoing cancer treatment at Adena Cancer Center in Chillicothe, wouldn’t be possible without the community, Jessica McNeal told The Times-Gazette.
Jessica’s son Colton, a sixth-grader at Greenfield Middle School, wanted to start Fight Bags because his great-grandpa fought cancer. Colton’s great-grandpa passed away in March 2018.
“He was really nice to us. He really loved us,” Colton said. “We were driving by the cancer center after a doctor’s appointment, and I wanted to go shake their hands and tell them about my grandpa, but then my mom said we could do some bags.”
“We decided to put together some care packages because there have been a lot of people in the community who have gotten cancer,” Jessica said. “We talked to some people who had undergone chemo to get an idea of what would make it an easier trip for them.”
The Fight Bags they delivered on Monday were packed with blankets, snacks, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, Bibles and devotionals, Jessica said. Inside each Fight Bag is a note from Colton that says: “I wish this never happened to you. Cancer sucks, and I learned that the hard way when my Grandpa Howard fought cancer. In honor of him, we started this to show you are not alone, and we are here to help with this bad time in your life. Remember we are here for you. Love, Colton McNeal and my Fight Bags friends. P.S. Stay strong. All donations have been given by members of the community. Our goal is to fight cancer with love one bag at a time. Psalms 121:1.”
This year, Colton’s brother, Landen, and his fourth grade basketball team as well as some of Colton’s friends and Colton’s youngest brother, Boone, helped pack the Fight Bags for the patients at the Adena Cancer Center. Colton told The Times-Gazette they packed 110 bags, which were donated by the YUSA Corporation this year. In 2018, they packed 105 bags.
”A lot of people help with everything,” Colton said. “Some people I’ve never even met before in my entire life came in and donated stuff, and it’s really nice because we know people are here supporting us.”
Jessica said they usually begin fundraising efforts in the summer and deliver the care packages to the cancer center around Christmas.
Colton said his favorite thing about Fight Bags is seeing the patients’ faces when he gives them the care packages.
“When we went Monday, a girl actually started crying,” Colton said.
“One of the Adena workers that we’ve talked to said that a lot of the people who go to the Adena Cancer Center are low-income, so they don’t really have a lot to begin with, so it really makes a huge difference to them, even though it’s not a lot,” Jessica said. “One of the recipients from last year, her daughter actually was a big donor this year. She donated a bunch of blankets to us because it has touched her mom so much that she wanted to be a part of it.”
Colton told The Times-Gazette there are other kids in Greenfield who have organizations that help members of the community. Colton mentioned Aiden’s Buddy Bags, which started because his classmate Aiden wanted to donate backpacks to foster kids who may only have trash bags to transport their belongings in, and Ada’s Magical Unicorns, an organization that raises money for cystic fibrosis research in an effort to help a student named Ada, who was born with cystic fibrosis.
As for Fight Bags, Colton already has his sights set on next year.
“Next year, we’re going to try to get a pediatric hospital,” Colton said. “If we get 200 bags, I’m dyeing my hair purple and gold: school colors.”
To stay up-to-date with Fight Bags, like or follow the “Fight Bags” page on Facebook. Those who would like to donate to the McNeals’ cause should message the Fight Bags Facebook page. The other organizations Colton mentioned can be found on Facebook, too. Check out the “Aiden’s Buddy Bags” group and the “Ava’s Magical Unicorns” page for more information.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.