Unique pop-up shop powered by love brings Christmas joy to kids at Albany Med

December 12, 2018 06:47 PM

The holidays can be especially difficult for children undergoing cancer treatment. A local woman created a way to bring some of the delight of gift giving to them.

It's been 18 years since Pat Hedgeman lost her precious granddaughter, Rosie, to cancer. To honor her, she created "Rosie's Love," with an eye toward helping other children like Rosie enjoy the season of giving.

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You may not hear Christmas carols in the air, but you can't miss the excitement from these pint-sized shoppers.

This Christmas mart is reserved for children undergoing cancer care at Albany Medical Center.

While she doesn't wear a hat with pointed ears, Pat Hedgeman is clearly one of Santa's elves. She started this special store in 2000 -- a few months after Pat's 3-year-old granddaughter, Rosie, lost her battle with cancer.

"She was so young that his was her world. These were her friends. This is where she spent all the time," explained Hedgeman.

When Rosie died, Pat's broken heart needed to heal -- so she turned her energy to helping other children like Rosie.

She knew that kids undergoing chemotherapy can't go to crowded shopping malls. Their immune systems are too fragile.

"So I just called all my friends, called all my neighbors and said can you just help me because I'm a little out of money. I emptied my bank account and I ran out of money," recalled Hedgeman.

Everyone stepped up. Now, 18 years later, volunteers from businesses around the Capital Region help out, providing people power and donations.

On the day NewsChannel 13 visited, a group from Berkshire Hathaway Realty was in the midst of the controlled chaos - helping kids find the perfect present and getting them wrapped.

"It helps me, because it gives me joy instead of sadness," said 12-year-old Gracie Chartier.

This marks her second Christmas shopping here, because she's still being treated for leukemia – diagnosed last November on her birthday.

She got a throw blanket for herself that she thought was pretty.

Like most of these children, Gracie had to be encouraged to select that gift for herself.

As Hedgeman learned, they're so focused on making their parents happy. After all, when a child battles cancer, their family is their army.

Laney Robillard, another child, had a long list of people to pick out presents.

"My mom, dad, maimee – and my sister and my dog," she explained.

"It just helps to bright up the children, give them a happy experience. I mean, they go through so much and they're so resilient," said McKenzie Robillard, Laney's mom.

"You can't put a dollar and cents value on this. It's all in smiles and happiness," said Hedgeman.

"Rosie's Love" at The Melodies Center at The Bernard and Millie Duker Children's Hospital at Albany Med stays open for a week -- sometimes a little longer depending on how many gifts have been donated and how many children it serves.

To learn more, you can call Pat Hedgeman at (518) 951-0110.


Benita Zahn

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