Nicolle Georgiev faced a truth no parent wants to encounter.
About six years ago the Pickering mom learned her daughter, Sophia Megan, had been diagnosed with leukemia. Megan was still a month away from turning two.
Now, age 8, she is a happy and healthy child. She recently celebrated five years of being a cancer survivor.
After multiple hours in hospital, Georgiev took her experience and wanted to help others in a similar place. She started the Super Sophia Project, featuring love boxes – filled with items such as toys, books, activities, crafts, stuffed animals and clothing for infants and toddlers to school-age children and teenagers. The love boxes are given to children 18 and under in hospitals.
“Sophia’s cancer-free and everything else is honestly a bonus,” Georgiev says, “she’s healthy and she’s inspiring other people to be kind, spread love and encouraging them to never to give up – it really is the best thing.”
So far in three years, more than 3,000 loves boxes have been gifted to nine hospitals across the GTA, including Lakeridge Health Oshawa and locations as far away as Sudbury, Orillia and Barrie. Georgiev’s goal this year is to reach 5,000 boxes, share with more hospitals and reach more children.
“People are so good. I’ve encountered so many wonderful people, they want to help,” says Georgiev.
Megan, who considers herself president of the project, is very hands-on. Georgiev says her daughter often handpicks items from her home and packs love boxes for other kids experiencing medical treatments, like she did.
The project survives, Georgiev says, because of community-based volunteers and donations. The purpose is to bring kids some comfort and occupy their time, while they are away from home, she adds.
Georgiev says if people aren’t able to create their own love boxes, individual donations are greatly appreciated, including monetary contributions and any handmade items, which will then be assembled into a package.
Georgiev hopes people keep parents of sick children in mind when donating items, suggesting gift cards for coffee or toiletries for unexpected hospital stays as thoughtful gestures for families.
The Super Sophia Project hosts its first Sophia’s love box Gala at the Ajax Convention Centre on Feb. 15. The Valentine’s Day-themed event is intended to raise funds for the cardboard boxes themselves.
“It’s [the project] like my little baby, it’s in my heart, I can’t stop,” says Georgiev.