‘This side of heaven’

Mom’s space generates cash for local pediatric cancer patients

by Ciera Choate

Kitty Huffsetler opened her booth, “This Side of Heaven,” at HomeStyles Gallery & Specialty Shops last year to share her daughter’s message.

DeAnna Greiner died from cancer in 2009 at the age of 24. But not before she saw her journal entries, created during hospital stays, published into a book.

Now, in her honor, Huffsetler sells copies of the book, “This Side of Heaven,” and other items at the store as a way to raise money for area children battling cancer. Huffsetler’s space at Homestyles offers jewelry, playful socks, photo frames, T-shirts, hats, Mogo magnetic bracelets, sunglasses, charms and more. Proceeds from the booth pay co-pays for area children receiving cancer treatment at the Presbyterian Blume Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic. Some of the money also is used to buy groceries for the families.

Huffsetler said she decided to give back after anonymous donations paid DeAnna’s copays while she was in treatment at the clinic. Now, after stocking the booth for almost a year, Huffsetler also will have the chance to reach even more people with her new position on the Arts for Life state board.

But Huffsetler doesn’t want to boast about her efforts. The focus, she said, should be on local families facing the life-changing diagnosis of cancer.

“I basically say the same thing to everyone. I have rent, and I have overhead. I do what I can. I have helped some families,” she said. “It turned more into a healing, not only for me but for a lot of people who came in.”

When donating at Blume, Huffsetler doesn’t know who the money goes to, but that’s not important, she said.

“I don’t do much, but I do what I can. I think that the conversations I have with people have been more important,” she said. “It has been healing for me too, more than I ever thought.”

Huffsetler’s humble gifts have been a boon for the families of the Blume clinic.
“Kitty has done a great thing. It’s a great way to remember her daughter. She has done a lot, and she has a big heart,” Gretchen Jensen, a referral coordinator with the clinic, said. Jensen also lost a child to cancer.

Arts for Life, which uses art as therapy for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses, will now give Huffsetler a larger avenue to help families in need. In addition to writing in her own journal, DeAnna – who had been writing since she was a young girl – would go to craft stores, buy supplies to decorate items and give them away to other patients in the hospital.

“Because of DeAnna’s book, Arts for Life is going to try and get more children journals so they can journal their way through sickness,” Huffsetler said. The program also will supply as many children as possible with a journal in DeAnna’s memory, she said.

Want to help?

Proceeds from the “This Side of Heaven” booth at HomeStyles Gallery & Specialty Shops, 11237 Lawyers Road, in Mint Hill, benefit local pediatric cancer patients by helping pay medical bills and groceries.
For more information, call 704-573-1510.

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