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Gander mother gets incredible help from Newfoundland Facebook group

Cristina Thoms and her daughter Maria, left. CONTRIBUTED
Cristina Thoms and her daughter Maria, left. — Contributed

When Cristina Thoms quickly left Gander with her daughter Maria earlier this month she gave little thought to groceries. 

Cristina had to rush her daughter to St. John’s for treatment when the shunt surgically implanted to help Maria’s pilocytic astrocytoma brain tumor became blocked. The tumor was not cancerous.

The emergency trip on Feb. 15 came just a couple of months after Maria had rung the bell on her last chemotherapy treatment at the Janeway Children’s Hospital. The chemotherapy was necessary to keep her tumor from growing.

For Cristina, it was about getting her daughter the medical help she needed. When the pair got back to Gander, however, the need for food came to the forefront.

The stay in St. John’s had dwindled her finances, so Cristina turned to the Neighbours in Need - Newfoundland group — started in the wake of Snowmageddon — in an effort to get help.

On Feb. 20, a post was made on the group’s Facebook page and the response has been immense. As quickly as the post went up, there were offers for gift cards and requests for an email to send money transfers.

In the end, it was shared almost 400 times. She ended up with several food hampers and $60 in cash donations.

“It was a very big relief,” said Cristina. “It is a great help and I really appreciate it.”

'The need is there'

The response to Cristina’s call for help is exactly why Cortney Barber of Avondale started Neighbours in Need.

Cortney Barber
Cortney Barber

Originally, it was designed to help people affected by the incredible blizzard that shutdown that part of the Avalon peninsula earlier this year. The group now has some 6,500 members and upwards to 50 volunteers who help with collection. It has also expanded to other parts of the province.

“(The group) is focused on anything that you may need,” said Barber. “We, as a team, focus on the food needs and necessities.”

One of Barber’s friends was the person on the ground in Gander when the call came in for help.

After the post went live, she was surprised to see the many offers they received.

“People do not understand that the need is there,” said Barber.

Cristina doesn’t take for granted the help she has received from others in the last several days.

She knows she is fortunate and anticipates the time when she can pay it forward.

“I appreciate it all and when I’m better and more situated on my feet, I am going to be more than willing to help someone else out,” said Cristina. “Even if I am not on my feet, I will help anybody.”


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