By Annie Liu and Madeline Catapano
St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
Hi! We are Annie Liu and Madeline Catapano, Grade 12 students at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School and the founders of Boxes of Bravery.
Throughout our Catholic education, we have served the community by participating in retreats, helping the homeless, and donating to school charities. We wanted to take our service to the community a step further by supporting a group of individuals that we are both passionate about. After bonding over our personal familial experiences involving cancer, we realized we have a shared passion for helping the cancer community. Driven by the Catholic concern for others and our personal experiences, the idea of Boxes of Bravery was born.
So, what is Boxes of Bravery and how does it all work? We created a non-profit organization aimed towards supporting women by creating free breast cancer care packages. Our boxes contain a variety of chemo essentials that provide comfort and joy, while bringing a smile to each warrior’s face. Following the influx of COVID-19 cases in March, Toronto hospitals ceased all visitations, leaving many patients feeling isolated during their long overnight stays. Recognizing an unmet need in our community, Boxes of Bravery stepped up fundraising efforts, determined to instill strength by reminding patients they are remembered and never alone. Currently, we have delivered 25 boxes to the Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital and we hope to deliver even more through future donations and fundraisers. 100% of our proceeds are going directly towards curating these care packages.
This past October, we celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a scrunchie fundraiser. Knowing the popularity of these fashionable yet functional accessories, we promoted this initiative to family, friends, and people in our local community and ultimately sold nearly 200 scrunchies in less than a month. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we have raised $1,500+ which will go towards creating 40 more boxes to be delivered during the Christmas season.
St. Teresa of Calcutta said, ‘Give your hands to serve and your hearts to love’. We both know this is only the beginning of Boxes of Bravery. We have so much more serving and loving to do in our community.