Barbara's Friends

Not long ago, the closest treatment for children with cancer in Southwest Florida was in St. Petersburg or Miami. Barbara’s Friends has bridged that gap. We are dedicated to providing resources to fulfill the treatment and educational needs of our pediatric oncology and hematology patient population and their families at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

Our goal is to keep families together and provide local treatment so that these families are able to keep some normalcy in their lives and allow parents to stay physically and emotionally close to their sick child. 

Barbara Haskell who lost her life at the young age of 32 to breast cancer is the inspiration and spirit behind her namesake, Barbara’s Friends. After a four-year battle with her illness, Barbara marveled at the bravery of children with cancer. She often wondered how they could cope with the treatments that were sometimes as difficult as the disease itself. After her passing, her parents Betty and Frank Haskell helped make her wish to help children come true by establishing Barbara’s Friends — Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund. The Barbara’s Friends rainbow logo comes from Barbara’s lifelong love of the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” and its memorable song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Blessings in a Backpack of SWFL

Blessings in a Backpack is a results oriented program. This unique program is designed to feed children grades K-5 in Title 1 public schools who qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Meal Program and may not have any or enough food on the weekends. Better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, improved health and increased attendance have all been attributed to the success of this program.

$80 feeds a child in the program for an entire school year. Following a donation, a school is chosen and a local grocer partners with the program to provide food for meals in the backpacks. Every Friday, students receive their backpacks with food that requires little to no preparation. They return with their backpacks on Monday ready to learn.

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