|Click to download a certificate to present to your server at Not Your Average Joe's in Acton.
April 2009 brought unwelcome news for the family of Margaret James, now a Hildreth Elementary School first grader. Margaret—known to her friends as Meg—was diagnosed with childhood leukemia.
After completing the long and arduous process of chemotherapy, Meg went into remission. Meg was able to attend kindergarten, where her strength and vivacious personality touched many of her classmates and teachers. Unfortunately, remission did not last long and in June of this year Meg had a relapse in her diagnosis.
Since then, the James family has been making regular journeys to Children's Hospital in Boston, where Meg has been undergoing a range of treatments, including an experimental drug.
Meg's family keeps friends and family abreast of her condition on the website Caring Bridge, www.caringbridge.org. Caring Bridge is a non-profit organization that allows individuals to make journal entries and post photos. Guests can sign in and leave messages for the family.
In a recent post, Meg's mother Kari James, a teacher in Acton, talks about the efforts that doctors and family members have been making to bring Meg's health to where a bone marrow transplant would be an option.
Meg's grandmother, Harvard resident Carlene Phillips, is amazed at the resiliency her granddaughter exhibits.
"She seems to accept it all so well," Phillips said. "She is mostly upbeat and has a great sense of humor. She also enjoys having visitors."
Phillips described the joy she sees in Meg's face when she spends time exploring the garden at Children's Hospital. Recently, she found a family of snails living there. She also enjoys flying paper airplanes there and blowing bubbles around the plants. Phillips is also extremely grateful to the community.
|A yardful of jack o’ lanterns awaits Meg James on the lawn of her Still River home. The pumpkins, carved by Hildreth Elementary School children, teachers, and families, feature silly and scary faces, hearts, and cats. (Photo by Lisa Aciukewicz)
"Harvard is a wonderful place to live," she said. "It is at times like this that it is great to live in a small town. Our family cannot express enough how thankful we are for the support Meg has received."
Harvard residents of all ages have rallied to raise funds to help the James family with travel and incidental expenses that are connected with caring for Meg. Last weekend, the Bromfield soccer teams and the group Bromfield Cares raised over $1,100 from parking donations and bake sale proceeds (see related story on page 5).
There will be more opportunities for the community to help out on Nov. 4. A fundraiser organized by school and community friends of the James family will take place between 6 and 9 p.m. at the Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church. The benefit will include food, drinks, auction items and local musical talent.
According to one of the organizers, Pamela Lora, there will not be a cover charge. A donation jar will be set up where contributions can be given.
"I am thrilled that 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the James family," Lora said. "We are blessed to be in such a wonderful community full of unbelievably giving people."
David Gilfix, Hildreth Elementary School music teacher, will be performing at the event. He will be playing some classical pieces, Spanish guitar, and some original instrumental works.
"This is a great cause," Gilfix said. "Meg was a joy to teach and her family is wonderful. I will do whatever I can to help out."
For those people who are unable to attend the Nov. 4 fundraiser, popular eatery Not Your Average Joe's on Main Street in Acton is donating 15 percent of any food bill, eat in or take out, every Tuesday in November to the James family. In order to be eligible for the donation, diners must bring in an official flyer which can be obtained from fundraiser organizer and Harvard resident Ted Mara at email@example.com or at 978-456-4166, or download it here.
There are four more Tuesdays in November when the 15 percent donation is available for orders from the lunch or dinner menus.
For more information about contributing to the Margaret James fundraisers contact Pamela Lora at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 978-456-9193.