By Jessica Olson
As the holidays approach, many people find themselves with busy days—from shopping for gifts to attending holiday parties. It is also a time of year when many people think about giving back. You can cross an item off your to-do list and give back this year by heading to the ALS gift-wrapping station at the McCain Mall.
ALS in Wonderland, a Foundation founded by Ms. Lara Blume McGee in remembrance of her father, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2009, is hosting the gift wrapping station to help make the holiday a little bit less stressful for shoppers. The gift-wrapping station will be available in the McCain Mall from December 1-24, 2019, every day from 10am until 8pm (http://www.alsinwonderland.com/alsgiftwrapping). People are free to bring their gifts and volunteers will wrap them. The gift-wrapping is free, but the group does accept donations. The money raised at the gift-wrapping station this holiday season will go to support ALS in Wonderland. ALS in Wonderland is also looking for volunteers for gift wrapping shifts. This is a great family or church youth group activity. Those who are interested can sign up here: https://signup.com/go/ZDFHDWL.
Many people do not know much about ALS unless they know someone who has been affected by it. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, which leads to loss of muscle control and ultimately to the loss of respiratory function. This disease currently has no cure and there is only one drug used specifically to slow the disease’s progression (http://www.alsinwonderland.com/the-cause). As McGee explains, “the disease progresses quickly in most. The doctor tells you that you have 2-5 years to live. For many, those years are months before they pass. In only 10% of the cases they make it past the 5 years.” McGee founded ALS in Wonderland when she saw that in Arkansas there was a great need for assistance for people living with this awful disease. The organization provides monthly financial assistance, medical equipment, monthly support gatherings, hotel rooms for UAMS clinic visits, home modification, and education programs.
In addition to the annual gift-wrapping, the ALS in Wonderland Foundation hosts many fundraising events throughout the year. There is a charity golf tournament that is held each year in October and a fundraising catwalk fashion show in May. To get involved, you can contact ALS in Wonderland by phone at 501-492-6955, reach out to their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ALSInWonderland), or fill out the contact form on the website at: http://www.alsinwonderland.com/contact.