Husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends.
Directly or indirectly, virtually everyone is or has been impacted by cancer.
So, when the opportunity to bring some joy to those afflicted with cancer arose, some members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department didn’t hesitate to join in.
OCSD Deputies Ethan Calderwood, Catherine Edgerton and Pete Chavez joined police officers from Irvine, Garden Grove, Tustin and Cypress and other agencies to deliver care packages to patients receiving chemotherapy treatment at the Compassionate Care Cancer Center in Fountain Valley.
On Friday, Feb. 23, the officers hand-delivered backpacks containing soft blankets, lip balm, hand sanitizer, tissue, healthy snacks and a journal.
“It was great to see the smiles on their faces,” said Chavez, one of the organizers of Six Points for Kids, a deputy-driven program to give back to the community. “We just jumped on board. It was a natural for us. We definitely hope they call us back, and we plan to be back every year.”
Irvine Police Officer Rafaelo Papale and his wife, Jenn, started delivering the care packages in 2016 in response to a friend who was battling breast cancer.
The couple donated 67 filled backpacks to the cancer center the first year.
The Papales reached out to friends at other agencies and the number of participants grew.
In 2017, 87 filled backpacks were donated.
This year, organizers delivered close to 120.
“Our patients come from all socio-economic backgrounds, and some are in dire need of help,” said Dr. Peyman Salimi-Tari, an oncologist at the center. “So, anyone who is able to help and donate things for patients, we appreciate it. Their emotional needs are as necessary as any financial needs.”
Papale said he eventually hopes to get every agency in Orange County to participate.
“Every year we’re going to try to keep doing it and get more and more donations,” Papale said. “We’ve all known people who’ve had cancer.”