Like a lot of little girls, three-year-old Lily Baker of Oxford loves to dance and dress like a princess. But there’s not a lot of time for playing when you’re fighting leukemia.
Fortunately, Lily and her parents, Lee and Nichole Baker, have the support of an entire community in their battle. For starters, the I Am Brave Foundation will raise funds for the Baker family with its second annual Santa’s Workshop, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, at Castle Hill Bed & Breakfast in Oxford.
With family-friendly activities such as cookie decorating, face painting and caroling, all ages are welcome to attend. Children will get the chance to take a picture with Santa. The entry fee is $15 per child, and the price is reduced to $10 after the second child.
The proceeds will go toward helping the Baker family cover the cost of caring for Lily, who was diagnosed with leukemia in March 2017 and is undergoing treatment at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Saturday’s Christmas Village activities run from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., while Sunday goes from 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Deanna Minga, founder of I Am Brave, describes Lily as “a spunky three-year-old whose smile will melt your heart. She is facing this battle with cancer with such bravery and strength. Some of Lily’s favorite things are singing, dancing, painting, dressing up like a princess and playing with her friends. She also adores Minnie Mouse and her puppy dog, Ruby.”
The I Am Brave Foundation was founded to help women who find themselves and their families in difficult circumstances.
“We want to share God’s love with them and to let them know that they are not alone,” Minga said, “and that God’s desire is to bring them above and beyond their circumstances.”
Due to the success of last year’s event, the founders of I Am Brave decided to make Santa’s Workshop an annual fundraiser. The idea was conceived following the breast cancer diagnosis of Minga’s coworker, Kim McGregor, in September 2016.
“One morning in late October following Kim’s diagnosis, another co-worker and I were discussing Kim’s battle with this disease,” Minga said. “The idea of doing a Santa’s workshop fundraiser was tossed around. After asking a few friends and family who had younger kids about their thoughts on us doing a Santa’s Workshop, we decided this would be a great opportunity.”
That event was a huge success.
“There was something magical that took place during this event,” Minga said. “It was not only felt by my co-workers and me, but parents and kids alike. It was Christmas magic and excitement. The true meaning of Christmas … giving of ourselves to help those in need.”
Lots of planning has gone into this year’s event. To make room for growth, the foundation set out to find a larger venue and settled on Castle Hill. The committee then began spreading the word about the event to attract sponsors. Among this year’s sponsors are Castle Hill; Chartre Companies; Grantham Construction Co.; C. Denise Woods & Company; Oxford Surgery Center; Cannon Motors; Shell Plastic Surgery; Hunters’ Hollow; Lee Family Dentistry; and Tannehill, Carmean & McKenzie, PLLC.
This year, Santa’s Workshop added “Lily’s Christmas Tree Village” to provide entertainment for children and parents alike. For a $25 entry, local organizations, groups and individuals can create and decorate a nontraditional tree for the village. For $1, individuals can tour the village and vote on their favorite tree.
“We encourage youth groups, adult groups, civic organizations, school groups, church groups, businesses, and even families to participate in the contest,” Minga said.
“I believe this event will be a treat for all who attend it. There will be something for everyone of all ages,” she added. “We want it to be an event our community will be proud of and will want to be a part of for years to come.”
The I Am Brave Foundation’s website is iambravefoundation.org. There is a Santa’s Workshop page there with links to the workshop registration form, tree contest entry form and a volunteer form.
Peyton Day is an intern for HottyToddy.com.
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