Cancer NPC founder uses skills to help hungry during lockdown

Linda Jacobs prepares a food parcel for those in need during lockdown. Jacobs is also the founder of Ross Helping Hands, an NPC that assists cancer patients and their families.
Linda Jacobs prepares a food parcel for those in need during lockdown. Jacobs is also the founder of Ross Helping Hands, an NPC that assists cancer patients and their families.
Image: MADELEINE CHAPUT

“Helping wherever I can” is a mantra  Ross Helping Hands founder Linda Jacobs lives by.

The  mother of two started the foundation after losing her first husband to cancer 15 years ago.

“I spent many years after that assisting the Cancer Association with raising funds, but I saw a need  to start a foundation to help those cancer patients who may not have the financial means to carry the huge burden that cancer brings,” said Jacobs, 43.

Officially registered in 2014, Ross Helping Hands NPC is run by a group of volunteers, with Jacobs taking charge of all fundraising initiatives.

She said the foundation’s aim was to help cancer patients and their families in any way possible,  from covering transport costs and accessing treatment to supplying adult nappies, assisting with medication costs and even procuring wheelchairs and other equipment for those in need.

“My role in the foundation is fundraising co-ordinator, to ensure that we are able to continue assisting where we can,” said Jacobs, who also runs her own marketing business.

“We also have a nursing or caring side, where our carers go out to people’s homes and help families who have patients with stage four cancer. Our carers are the only ones who receive a salary from the organisation and we also have many people who choose to volunteer,” Jacobs explained.

She said behind the foundation’s success were the women, including Terrie van der Berg, Val Sternberg and Sharron Oosthuizen, who had given their time, effort and support without expecting anything in return.

“These amazing ladies are still a major driving force for the foundation. Val is phenomenal. She is a qualified nurse and she knows exactly what to do and is always ready to offer her support,” said Jacobs.

All of us donate our time and energy to the foundation. It’s all voluntary and every cent raised goes to caring and assisting cancer patients

“All of us donate our time and energy to the foundation. It’s all voluntary and every cent raised goes to caring and assisting cancer patients.”

Jacobs said the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown had brought changes to the organisation.

“With lockdown, most of our fundraising events or initiatives have come to a halt. We’re doing as much as we can and still offering our support to patients and families in need, but  I started thinking about all the people who had been affected by the lockdown either having to close their businesses or the many who had lost their jobs.”

Jacobs went on to start the Barter East London Facebook group, which allows anyone to barter unwanted items. Its main purpose, however, is to enable Jacobs to barter household items she no longer needs in exchange for non-perishable food items.

“I thought it would be a great way to get rid of my items in exchange for food to help those desperate families in our community with a food parcel so they don’t go hungry,” she said.

The barter group has grown to more than 8,600 members in three months.

We have  had some amazing people who stepped up and got involved once they knew what I was up to. They donated non-perishable food as well as clothing for those families in need

“We have  had some amazing people who stepped up and got involved once they knew what I was up to. They donated non-perishable food as well as clothing for those families in need,” said Jacobs.

“To date we have assisted more than 1,500 people during lockdown with food,  parcels and winter essentials. We have worked closely with other NPOs and churches sharing any non-perishable food items that have been collected.”

Brian Francis, form the Clean Slate organisation, said Jacobs had been incredibly supportive in the past few months.

“The main focus of Ross Helping Hands is cancer patients, but just like us they’ve responded to the issues caused by lockdown and helped a lot with food parcels for people and families in need. I’ve worked with Linda  for a while and she’s really been a great help,” said Francis.

Jacobs said: “I feel that this is what I was put on this earth to do — giving those in need a helping hand where I can. The most rewarding part is knowing that I have given a small piece of hope to those we are assisting.”


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