Noelle Peterson, 18, of Encampment, Wyoming, a senior at Encampment K-12 School, has provided caps, craft kits and coloring books for at least 150 children being treated for cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital over the past three years, to honor her father, who died from lung cancer when she was 5 years old. Noelle recalled that her family received a tremendous amount of support after her father’s death from extended family members, teachers and their community. “It honestly changed our lives,” she said. “As I got older, I wanted to help people in the same way.” Over the past five years, she has volunteered more than 600 hours to veterans, mentoring, and community beautification projects. Her most worthwhile work, she said, has been helping children at St. Jude, because the hospital focuses on children and provides treatment regardless of a family’s ability to pay.
Noelle started by making cancer caps for kids in the oncology unit at St. Jude. After learning the sewing process and selecting fun patterns, she gathered materials and recruited other young people to help her make more than 100 caps. Noelle then assembled more than 75 craft kits for children at the hospital, and collected over 100 coloring books from friends and family for Christmas and her birthday. She sent them all to St. Jude by mail, but one day hopes to deliver more gifts personally to young cancer patients there. “I hope they understand that even though we’ve never met, there are people supporting their fight,” said Noelle. “Maybe my contribution will give them a positive feeling on a day they are struggling, and give them the courage to keep pushing through.”