The University of Virginia’s Cancer Center has launched its first annual wreath auction since the pandemic hit, with nearly 120 wreaths designed by UVa Health employees.
“So far, it’s been going great,” said Ahmad Shahid, a fourth-year student who’s helping to lead the fundraiser. Shahid said he’s in charge of marketing and making sure that word gets spread about the wreath auction.
The money raised goes to support patients at the cancer center and eliminate barriers to care: especially transportation costs, but also lodging. So far this year, the cancer center has helped nearly 100 patients with transportation and about 60 with lodging.
“UVa covers a huge area of service,” said cancer center patient support advocate Joncey Wagoner. The UVa Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Virginia. “Nobody should be unable to get treatment just because they can’t afford to put gas in their car.”
Wagoner explained that the cancer center collaborates with social workers to identify the patients who may have trouble accessing the care they need. Proceeds from the wreath auction will help pay for gas cards to give out to patients and pay for a place for them to stay if needed.
For Haeli Knox, another fourth-year who led the fundraiser with Shahid, it’s rewarding to see how the wreaths can brighten both staff members’ and patients’ days.
“As we were putting the wreaths up, we got to see the smiles on everybody’s faces,” Knox said. “Just earlier, someone was passing by and commenting on how lovely they were. It’s just a lot of small moments like that.”
“It really creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere during the holiday season, and I think it really enhances the patient experience at the UVa Cancer Center,” he said.
The auction will be held online. People can bid on wreaths through 8 p.m on Dec. 5. Buyers can pick up their wreaths between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center lobby in Charlottesville and at the front desk of the cancer center’s Augusta clinic.