Posted on November 27, 2021 at 4:58 p.m.
Their name explains their mission. When a person is overwhelmed by a diagnosis of autism or cancer and thinks, âI don’t know where to turn for help,â Turn to Us is there.
Jim Thorpe’s Hartman family has been involved in the association for two years. During this time, Mike Hartman’s wife, mother of Tyler and Sarah, was diagnosed with cancer.
“We found out on December 22,” Mike said, “and his surgery was scheduled for January 10, so you can imagine it was during the holidays.”
Hartman said after all the tears and angst and Erin’s successful surgery, they wanted to give something back after they were told she didn’t have cancer.
âFirst my son got involved with Turn for Us and now he’s my daughter,â Hartman said. âWhat they are doing is putting boxes inside local stores and schools like LB Morris, Penn-Kidder and Jim Thorpe High School and in area businesses. Our boxes have our logo and mission statement, so they are very visible.
Tyler and Sarah then go to the pickup location and collect the gifts which include toys, gift cards, gas cards, jewelry, socks, lotions, and candles.
âThe gas cards have been very helpful, especially for family members who frequently have to drive cancer patients to Philadelphia for their treatments,â Hartman said. âIt’s amazing that Tyler collected 500 gifts from people we don’t know and will never know. No one is looking for credit. It shows you how generous our community can be.
Sarah Hartman, a sophomore at Jim Thorpe High School, saw firsthand what Turn for Us did.
âThe year before the pandemic, they hosted a holiday banquet at Dean Anthony’s for families with cancer and autism,â she explained. âThere were about 100 people who participated and received the donated gifts and toys. It does you good to be able to help these families.
Turn to Us is a non-profit organization serving Carbon County and the Tamaqua region. They are an advocate for people and their families living with autism or cancer. Turn to Us offers personal assistance and a connection to available resources in an environment of compassion and hope.
The program, founded in 2015 by Executive Director Alicia Kline, is based in Nesquehoning. They depend on donations and contributions from residents of Carbon County so that they can help families, friends and neighbors in the local community.
Over the past six years, Turn to Us estimates it has served over 250 families where someone has been diagnosed with cancer or autism.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. There is a wide range of severity of symptoms that affected individuals may experience. There is no cure for autism, but research has shown that early intervention can improve a child’s development.
According to the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, 439 Carbon County residents are diagnosed with cancer each year and 171 die from it. Locally, the most common cases are lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and bladder cancer.
In the past two years, Turn to Us has helped 53 people with cancer. In addition to gifts and toys, the program also offers free events for families to spend time together, connection to resources, financial aid, and emotional support.
This year’s gift and toy drive will run until December 15th.
âMy son had a very interesting experience while emptying a collection box at the Giant food store,â Hartman said. âAs he was leaving the store, a man yelled at him to wait. The man then ran down the aisle and bought some basketballs to donate to the program.
They received gifts and toys sent from as far away as Maryland, and Hartman recalled when an entire room in his house was filled with gifts and toys from collection boxes. Each gift is wrapped by program volunteers. This year, families will be able to pick up their gifts at the Turn for Us head office located at 46 W. Catawissa St. in Nesquehoning.
As an extended invitation, if any high school students wish to perform community service for Turn to Us, they can be contacted at 570-732-4220.
Toys can be dropped off at Jim Thorpe Area High School, LB Morris Elementary School, Penn-Kidder Elementary School, Jim Thorpe Market, and Mauch Chunk 5 and 10.
âThere are a lot of good people in our community who want to help,â Hartman said. âWe can always use more volunteers. “