Joni’s Army delivers presents to poorly children at London hospital
PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 December 2016
A charity founded after a nine-year-old girl passed away of a rare bone cancer, has delivered hundreds of presents to the poorly children in the hospital ward where she was treated.
A group of volunteers from Joni’s Army travelled to the paediatric oncology ward at University College Hospital last week in black mini cabs, ready to hand over more than 300 presents in time for Christmas.
Joni-Mai’s mum and founder of the charity Holly Stevens, 31, said: “The whole thing just sky-rocketed, it absolutely flew.
“We wanted to make this Christmas special for the families at the hospital but I didn’t have a clue it would turn into what it did.
“I’m so happy we decided to do it.”
Joni-Mai, of Swanbourne Drive, Hornchurch, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at the age of five but despite being given the all-clear when she was six, she developed another tumour while on holiday in New York in 2014.
She sadly died in September last year.
The Hornchurch community group, Joni’s Army, was made an official charity in June with the aim of assisting families of sick children.
Holly and her team of volunteers wanted to give something back to those at the hospital where Joni-Mai received her treatment for almost four years.
A fundraising page was also set up which raised almost £2,000 which has been spent on gifts.
Holly said: “I was feeling a little bit solemn with Christmas coming up and knew we had to do something.
“The ward almost gets overseen because Great Ormond Street isn’t that far away so a lot of attention goes there.
“When people donate presents sometimes, they can be more like second hand gifts so we got really good presents like drones and charm bracelets so things that we know the children would like.
“It’s been overwhelming to say the least.”