|4/16/2013 1:55:00 PM|
Students engage community to help a family in need
By Kit ToselloEight-month-old Abel Bloss smiles all the time "unless he's in pain," says his mother, Misty, of Sisters.
In his short life, Abel has endured three major surgeries to correct a dangerous congenital condition, and his family is facing down crushing medical expenses. But the caring students of Sisters High School's Sparrow Club have come alongside the Bloss family to offer emotional and financial support, and they've come up with ways members of the community can help, too.
While in the womb, Abel was diagnosed with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), a hole in his diaphragm that allowed his abdominal organs to move up into his chest. After several corrective surgeries, he's left with a piece of mesh sewn in place to help his organs stay put as they grow. Abel also works extra-hard to breathe due to an underdeveloped lung.
Yet Misty is optimistic.
"Everything's going really good as of now," she says. "Now that he's healing, he's excited to start learning. He's a fighter for sure."
The demands of the past year, including two emergency Life Flight transports and extended stays in Portland, have rendered both Misty and her husband, Jeremy, unable to work steadily, and they're feeling suffocated beneath medical bills and other related expenses.
A family friend put Misty in touch with Sparrow Club, and the students jumped to action, adopting little Abel as their "sparrow" for the school year. Community members have several opportunities to team up with students and show support for the Bloss family: Purchase raffle tickets, contribute spare change to donation jars at businesses all over town, or volunteer for an hour or more of community service.
Donated raffle prizes include a pair of all-event tickets for the Sisters Folk Festival; two Adirondack chairs made by students in the SHS woods class; dinner for four catered by The Rural Gourmet; a crocheted blanket, handmade by Lori Williams; and a massage from GreenRidge Physical Therapy. Students plan to sell raffle tickets and share Abel's story at Ray's Food Place on Saturday, April 20, from 1 to 5 p.m.
Also, individuals, families, or other groups may turn in a voucher for time spent performing approved community service projects. This not only benefits the town but directly supports the Bloss family. For example, a family of four who spends two hours picking up trash would earn $80 for the Bloss family.
Sparrow Club is a Northwest-based charity organization empowering students to help kids in medical need. Its purpose is to build compassion and instill character in young people while contributing to the betterment of communities. Each school year, the club's first order of business is to enlist a corporate sponsor. The sponsor rewards students and community members for community service hours, by making a monetary contribution to the family in need. This year, the Weitzman Foundation has once again agreed to sponsor the club.
"We're very thankful for them," says Danielle Lovegren, the club's president. Danielle, a senior at SHS, has participated in Sparrow Club all four years of high school. She has been profoundly impacted by working directly with several local families in trying circumstances.
"Going through this, families really need the emotional support," she says. "We were their support. We were their hope. They weren't alone in a very difficult time."
In addition to Abel, Misty and Jeremy have several children in Sisters schools: Keegan and Jevan attend SHS, and Emma and Jaden are middle schoolers.
Misty is grateful for the efforts of SHS Sparrow Club. "They're really sweet kids," she says. "I have more hope than I've had any other time."
For raffle tickets, community service vouchers, or to make a donation, contact SHS club advisor, Sally Taylor-Pillar, 541-549-4045.
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