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Lethbridge community comes together to help 6-year-old with cancer and her family

Lethbridge community comes together to help 6-year-old with cancer and her family
Some Good Samaritans came together on Saturday to help out a Lethbridge family in need. Six-year-old Jennifer Ortega was diagnosed with a large cancerous tumour on her kidney in November. Taz Dhaliwal reports.

The Good Samaritans of Lethbridge came together on Saturday to help a local family in need.

Six-year-old Jennifer Ortega was diagnosed with a large cancerous tumour on her kidney in November.

Connecting Our Community Lethbridge and LCO International joined forces to help the Ortega family by organizing a food drive at the LDS church on 4105 Forestry Ave. South, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The family is currently in Calgary as their young daughter receives four to five rounds of chemotherapy this month, according to Astriv Zuluagha, an organizer with LCO International.

Zuluagha said Jennifer’s kidney, along with the tumour, were both recently removed.

READ MORE: Lethbridge’s Interfaith Food Bank planning 2019 budget after fewer holiday donations

“They’re constantly travelling to Calgary for all of these treatments, sometimes staying overnight or for three or two days,” Zuluagha said. “So it’s putting a big financial stress on them.

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“This is what we’re doing for them. We’re helping out with food and financial support.”

Zuluagha said over 50 people donated, hundreds of dollars were raised and a month’s worth of meals were assembled.

Three Lethbridge residents even donated enough money to take care of five months of mortgage payments.

Local businessman Mike Mikado donated two months’ worth of payment, Lethbridge Coun. Blaine Hyggen came forward with a month and Rogers Simpson pitched in for another two months, according to Mallory Kristjanson, a spokesperson for COCL.

“We believe that we need to create a community that stands together, so with that said, we’ve also invited children to come together,” Kristjanson said.

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“So we’ve had hockey teams, we’ve had daycares write letters of encouragement and love to little Jennifer and her family through this trying time,” Kristjanson said.

READ MORE: Lethbridge College embraces the spirit of giving with Food for Fines Campaign

Jennifer’s kindergarten teacher Carmen Little said her classmates miss her and can’t wait for her to return.

She said the class had a chance to speak with her earlier this week.

“Because it was her birthday, I videotaped the class singing happy birthday, so we sent a message to her family and she videotaped back saying thank you for the video,” Little said.

She said the kids have been supportive and sympathetic to her situation, they will continue to stay in touch with Jennifer and hope for a speedy recovery.

People can head to the LCO International site to donate and those who make a donation over $25 will receive a tax receipt.