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Greensburg church collects hats to fight cancer's ugliness

| Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Bishop Carl Jones (center) along with members of the Greater Parkview Church of Greensburg and staff members of the Arnold Palmer Cancer Pavilion, pose for a group photo with hats donated to cancer patients.

In the spirit of the season to give, members of Greater Parkview Church in Greensburg embarked on their community project right after Thanksgiving.

Each year, members of the Esther's Women's Ministry group band together with other church members and their families to support a local cause.

Greater Parkview Church, under the direction of Bishop Carl E. Jones Sr., has devoted time and effort to nursing homes and community outreach programs in the past.

This year, their efforts were closer than usual to their church home at 103 Westminster Ave.

“We decided this year's project would be to collect hats for men and women who are patients at the Arnold Palmer Cancer Center in Latrobe,” said Ruth Tolbert of Derry. “We're collecting hats for both men and women, because men aren't always included in cancer awareness efforts. This was brought to our attention by a member of our own church who's currently in remission.”

With assistance from the Joshua's Men's Ministry and the congregation, the church was able to donate more than 100 hundred hats to patients at Arnold Palmer on Dec. 18.

Choosing this year's project was easy for the group members, as they watched one of their own struggle through all the stages of cancer, from diagnosis to remission.

“Through the grace of God, she is still with us. At one time, we thought she had a limited amount of time. We saw her struggle with losing her way. Watching her survive touched our hearts,” said Stephanie Jones of Cranberry, head of the women's ministry.

“She had a hard time trying to find the right hat or wig to cover her head,” Jones said. “She told us about the patients at Arnold Palmer, and we thought it would be a nice gesture to buy them hats we might like for ourselves if we were to lose our hair.”

The group spent several weeks collecting new hats of various sizes and styles, including many ball caps, as the group suspected the men would enjoy those most.

“Cancer can be ugly, and your outer appearance suddenly becomes more important. We want to improve their quality of life, and we're trying to give hope this holiday season,” Tolbert said. “It's not easy going bald, so staying positive and focusing on what the patient can control is key. A simple hat can provide protection and help a patient feel beautiful.”

The group will continue collecting hats in boxes to be kept at the church.

“We hope they wear them with confidence and style,” said Tolbert. “We hope the hats bring them warmth, comfort, courage and strength.”

Greater Parkview, which is celebrating 87 years as a church, has been in Greensburg for four years.

Tolbert recently became a very active member of its choir, Sunday school program and newsletter distribution team, said her desire to be involved in the community drew her to the church.

“These people are very out and about in the community, which was important to me, because I enjoy helping others in need,” Tolbert said.

Kaylie Harper is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.