Honor Society students surprise Alabaster cancer patients

Students in Thompson Middle School's National Junior Honor Society pack bags after school to deliver to patients at the Shelby Comprehensive Cancer Center. (Contributed)

Students in Thompson Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society pack bags after school to deliver to patients at the Shelby Comprehensive Cancer Center. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – When Calera resident Billie Ruwe, a patient at the Shelby Comprehensive Cancer Center in Alabaster, arrived for her appointment at the center on Oct. 29, the visit wasn’t what she expected.

When she walked into the building, she was surprised to find a bag full of treats waiting for her. When she asked the center’s staff where the bags came from, Ruwe said she was honored by the answer.

“I think those students are to be commended for bringing Halloween to folks at the cancer center,” Ruwe said during an Oct. 31 interview. “They had some for men and some for women. I just enjoyed it so much.”

The bags came from Thompson Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society, which is composed of TMS students who have at least a 93 grade average in all their classes.

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, the about 75 students in the group planned what they put in the bags, wrote notes to the Cancer Center patients and stuffed about 140 bags to deliver to the center.

TMS teacher and National Junior Honor Society sponsor Melanie Tingle said the group prepares bags for local cancer patients three times a year: Once in the fall, once at Christmas and again in the spring.

The students pack the bags with everything from Chapstick to books of word puzzles and smile-inducing notes. The kids also handwrote their own jokes and puns to help put a smile on the patients’ faces.

“Mine had Lifesavers, a little bag of Oreos. The bags had different questions and jokes in them, and those were silly,” Ruwe said. “I think middle school is a good age for this.”

Tingle said the students take charge of the project each year, and said they were eager to help those who are going through a difficult time.

“We just wanted to do something to brighten their day,” Tingle said. “This group is a really special group.”