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Growing Aloe Vera Plants for Cancer Patients

Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit Elk Grove Village, IL The youth at Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Elk Grove Village, IL are in their third year of “Nancy’s Project”, a community service project where aloe vera plants are grown and given to patients at the local hospital who are receiving radiation treatment for their cancer. The project got its name from Nancy Helzing, a LCHS parishioner who valiantly fought cancer and suffered the side effects of treatment – most notably the painful burns of radiation therapy. She discovered that the absolute best way to treat these burns was to apply fresh aloe vera directly to them. In 2009, Nancy envisioned a new ministry - growing aloe vera plants and giving them to patients at the Alexian Brothers Cancer Institute (where she was a patient and volunteer), and to others in the community who were fighting this terrible disease. Nancy brought her idea to Pastor Tim Manwell and Mike Govert, the volunteer youth group leader, and by January of 2010, Nancy’s Project had begun. Nancy passed away in May of 2010, and now rests with our LORD in heaven. About a third of the youth room at Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit has been converted into an aloe vera farm, complete with abundant shelving and a very large and sunny window. While some of the larger plants produce “pups”, or small offshoot plants that can be repotted, many small aloe vera plants are purchased from a local Home Depot. The youth also shop around for good prices on pots, soil, and sand. The youth group hosts an annual spaghetti dinner and variety show at the church, the proceeds of which go entirely towards the funding of Nancy’s Project. Plants and monetary donations are also received from parishioners and others in the community.





Periodically, the youth host an aloe vera planting, which is attended by parishioners and community members. Soil and sand are mixed in a wheelbarrow, and small plants are repotted and taken to the youth room where they are given shelf space to grow.

 

Twice each monthe the youth deliver plants to the Radiation Oncology Services at Alexian Brothers Hospital. Each patient is offered a plant by the hospital staff. Included with each plant is a message of wellness, and a stamped postcard which can be returned by the recipient to be included in the prayers of the congregation, and contacted by Pastor Manwell (if they indicate a desire). Parishioners also give plants to individuals in the community who they know are battling cancer. The youth and congregation of Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit hope that Nancy’s caring and generous spirit will continue to be felt in their community through Nancy’s Project for years and years to come.