BUFFALO, N.Y. — They’re moms on a mission, taking one of the most difficult times in their lives and turning into bags filled with hope.
“So things like the blanket, the binder, the pens, the pencils, a card holder, “Amy Velez, Co-Founder of Hope Totes Buffalo listed off as she went through a bag.
It all started two years ago when Velez’s son Thomas was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was being treated at Buffalo General Hospital when a special bag arrived.
“Colleen saved me, for me,” Velez said. “I mean Thomas needed the focus, but as his caregiver and as his mom, this is something that really wrapped me up in hope.”
Colleen Marchetta was no stranger to countless hospital trips. Her son Jack sought treatment at Oisehi Children's Hospital for an autoimmune disease. So, she knew exactly how to help. From there, the two started making totes for others at random.
“And I was like Colleen, this is setting my soul on fire, we have got to do this,” Velez recalled. “There is a need for this.”
In August, trips to Vera Bradley began to get the bags needed to spread more hope. Now, nearly 100 totes have been gifted. They’re valued at $125, and are made possible through donations and a lot of love.
“It’s made to make things easier for you," Marchetta said. "It’s the little bit of help that those caregivers need, or those dealing with a diagnosis, just a reminder that you have this."
And, just what the doctor ordered.
“I don’t know, I’m indebted,” Velez laughed.