‘Caps for Chemo’?

Published 4:34 pm Sunday, August 4, 2013

POWELLSVILLE – It was a noble and charitable effort, but it seems now to have all been in vain.

But it does show how much people care.

The News-Herald published a story in its July 25th edition regarding a joint effort on the part of a pair of Bertie County churches to collect plastic bottle caps that could be redeemed for chemotherapy treatments at North Carolina Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill.

It turns out that’s not the case.

As difficult as it is to turn one’s back on most any appeal for help, and particularly when it’s made on behalf of children, this was one time when misleading information was especially painful to accept.

After receiving requests from several area businesses who wanted to collect plastic caps with the idea that 500 caps collected would qualify a child for a free chemo treatment, the News-Herald was in turn contacted by the NC Children’s Hospital who told us this simply was not true.

“Unfortunately N.C. Children’s Hospital doesn’t have a program of this sort,” said Danielle Bates, Communications Director for the Chapel Hill based hospital.  “In fact, if you Google it or go to Snopes, you’ll see the hoax has been perpetuated in a number of places over the years, so much so that the American Cancer Society has a warning about it posted on their website.”

As a project for their summer Vacation Bible School, the combined efforts of the children at Powellsville Baptist Church and Mars Hill Baptist Church in the Trap community collected over 24,000 plastic caps that were supposed to be used to aid a local teen in her fight against childhood cancer.

Bates went on to add in an e-mail sent to the News-Herald this week, “For peace of mind, I reached out to several people, including the head of our pediatric cancer program; they all confirmed what I already knew: there is no way to exchange bottle caps for chemotherapy treatments.”

When the News-Herald received the information from the Children’s Hospital, we passed it along to Powellsville Baptist Church and the church pastor, the Rev. Jim Hopkins, said he was surprised to learn this.

“I’m not sure if we have the right hospital or not,” he said. “We’re going to put this on hold until we find out if this is a hoax or not.”

Rev. Hopkins continued, “If it’s not thru the Children’s Hospital, this particular one in Chapel Hill, but is thru another one then we’ll do that.”

“But if this is a hoax,” he cautioned, “then we will just cease because there’s no sense in going on.”

Rev. Hopkins said he had received several bits of information and seemed to indicate that his faith in the truth made for the better judgment.

“I don’t believe Lindsey (the young lady making the collections) is aware that it is a hoax, if it is in fact a hoax.”

Bates was also empathetic to the youths’ collection efforts

“I’d also like to connect with the young lady, Lindsey Faella, who sparked the collection,” Bates said. “It breaks my heart that she and the other kids would work so diligently to help our cancer patients only to find themselves the victims of a cruel hoax.”

Bates concluded by trying to add something positive for the children to reflect upon. “Though we can’t use the bottle caps how they intended,” she said, “I would like to thank them for everything they did.”