The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 28, 2014

Girl asks for gifts for cancer center for her birthday

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The gifts that friends and family brought to Molly Waters’ 10th birthday party weren’t the typical items for which a girl her age would hope: fleece blankets, stocking caps, Chapstick, pencils and crossword puzzle books.

But Molly wasn’t planning on keeping them for herself. She had requested them for patients at the Via Christi Cancer Center.

On Friday morning, the Independence girl, her 8-year-old sister, Mallory, and her mother, Carrie Waters, delivered colorful gift sacks full of the items to the center and presented them to Dr. Boban Mathew, medical director.

“I knew it was the right thing to do, and I felt good about doing it,” Molly said of her decision to request gifts for the center rather than herself.

The Waters family has a personal connection to the center, as Molly’s grandmother — Carrie’s mother — had been a patient there.

“Her name was Tammy Alfolter,” Molly said.

The two were close.

“I went to her house for sleepovers and we played games,” Molly recalled.

Molly also visited Alfolter in the hospital during treatment for a rapidly advancing adrenal cancer.

“We found out in December 2012 that it was terminal,” Carrie Waters said of her mother’s prognosis. “She started chemo, and was admitted here for a month in February. The tumor was getting to her spine.”

“Me and my sister would bring Molly here to visit. The girls did good handling everything until the last week of her life.”

Alfolter was discharged in March, and died at home in Independence on March 24. She was 55.

It was Molly who suggested gathering donations for the center, an idea that she formed during her visits, she said. Her mother helped create the list, and included it in the birthday party invitations.

“She’s always thinking of others,” Waters said. “She has a really big heart.”

The center, which sees between 250 and 300 new cancer patients each year, each with different cancers in varying stages, opened in 1995.

Mathew said that although the center receives lap blankets, mostly from senior citizens, on an annual basis, Molly’s gift was the first from a child.

The lap blankets provide comfort and warmth to patients who must sit for between 30 minutes to a couple of hours to receive chemo treatments, he explained, and puzzle books help them pass the time and take their minds off of their discomfort or illness.

“We always need them,” Mathew said of the items Molly brought. “We will make good use of it.”

Molly, whose birthday was Feb. 23, said she chose to deliver the gifts Friday because her school was not in session.

“It made my heart feel happy,” Molly said of her donation.


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