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A Gift of Joy for Dialysis Patients: The Sunflower Project

O’NEALS — Rebecca Townsend’s Senior Legacy Project is all about honoring the legacy of her grandmother Christine.

Rebecca Townsend

The Minarets High student — via her “Sunflower Project” — has set out to raise money for the Kidney Foundation as well as to make blankets and fistula band covers for patients undergoing dialysis treatment.

Townsend said she chose to focus her project on kidney disease and dialysis patients because of her beloved grandmother, who fought kidney disease and was on dialysis for ten years. (Sadly, she lost her battle on January 3, 2016.)

“This project is to honor her loving and giving spirit,” Townsend said. “My grandma was the most generous and giving person I have ever known. She always thought of others before herself.”

In late November, Townsend set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase the fabric to make the blankets and the fistula covers. As of mid-December, that account had already generated $625 on the way to Townsend’s goal of raising $5,000 to fund the project.

“I remember my grandma always being cold when she was at dialysis,” Townsend said. “So I want to provide dialysis patients warmth with the blankets I make.”

Townsend said she remembers her grandma was also self-conscious about her fistula. A fistula is surgically placed into a dialysis patient’s arm to allow better blood flow to the patient from the dialysis machine. “I will be working with an individual who makes fistula bands and sells them on ETSY,” she said. “They have offered to sew the bands for me if I provide the material to them.”

When the fistula bands are complete, Townsend plans to take them to dialysis centers and offer them to patients.

“The bands will be made from soft and stretchy material that will slide over the patient’s fistula to cover it,” she said. “I plan to deliver these items to dialysis centers in the Central Valley as well as the dialysis center my mom went to for ten years in San Gabriel.” She said she’s also planning to reach out to Valley Children’s Hospital to donate to pediatric kidney disease patients there too.

“I’ve received a ton of support from teachers on campus at Minarets and from family and friends” Townsend said. Her two biggest supporters — her teacher, Therese Righter, and her mother — have been helping her since before the project officially kicked off.

Townsend said Mrs. Righter has been “very supportive” of the project and has been working with her in Key Club as the adviser for the organization. “She has a lot of experience, she is super supportive and she is one of my favorite teachers on campus,” Townsend says.

Townsend said she chose to call her effort the Sunflower Project because sunflowers are known for being “happy” flowers, “making them the perfect gift to bring joy to someone.”

“Also,” she added, “Sunflowers were my grandma’s favorite flower — and are mine as well.”

For those interested in contributing to the project, here’s a link to Townsend’s GoFundMe Page.

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