The downtown Winter Garden popcorn and candy store is donating proceeds from its "gold" sales to Brighter Days.
Ms. Bee’s Gourmet Popcorn & Candy Shoppe is offering a sweet treat that benefits a locally created nonprofit organization.
For the month of September, the downtown Winter Garden shop is giving a portion of the proceeds of anything with a gold ribbon to the nonprofit Brighter Days Childhood Cancer. One hundred percent of the sales from the special Aven’s No s’MORES Cancer mix — which contains popcorn, marshmallows, graham cracker, drizzled chocolate and gold-brushed Hershey bars — will be donated, as well.
Chocolate ribbons wrapped in gold are for sale, too. For a quarter, shoppers can get a giant gold-colored gumball out of the gum machine.
Heidi Steinhauer, a Ms. Bee’s employee, presented the idea to owner Belinda Wilson last year, and after a monthlong fundraiser, the shop was able to give thousands of dollars to Brighter Days. Steinhauer and Suzi Crane, Aven’s mother, have been lifelong friends.
This year’s goal is to donate even more to Brighter Days.
The Brighter Days program was started by Aven Crane, a childhood cancer survivor, and her parents, Johnny and Suzi Crane, as a way of giving back to the community.
Aven Crane was 3 when her parents discovered an abnormal growth in her chest in March 2014. It was actually a tumor — an aggressive form of soft-tissue cancer — and her entire major pectoral muscle was removed at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
Following 42 weeks of chemotherapy, Aven endured 20 days of proton radiation therapy. Team Aven was born, and this aided not only the little girl and her family but more than 20 others undergoing treatment for pediatric cancers at APH.
From this, the Cranes established a 501c3, Brighter Days Childhood Cancer Organization. For information, go to brighterdays4kids.com.
Aven is in remission, but her parents worry about the long-lasting effects of the cancer treatments.
“Most people aren’t aware that less than 4% goes to funding research for all childhood cancers combined,” Steinhauer said. “A lot of families have to do cookie drives and fundraisers just to raise money for research.”
At Brighter Days, a percentage of donations and funds goes to financially aiding families at Arnold Palmer with donations of gas cards and gift cards for food. Another percentage goes into the Brighter Day childhood cancer research fund.
“Awareness is everything,” Steinhauer said. “Without awareness, there’s no funding.”
The city of Winter Garden issued a proclamation on Sept. 5 announcing September as Blood and Childhood Cancer Month in the city. City Hall lights have been turned gold to celebrate children with cancer, and many downtown merchants are going gold with ribbons or lights this month.