Jennifer Moore’s memory is preserved through simple acts of kindness, including every time a cancer patient buys groceries or gas using one of the gift cards her family donated.
The Clarksville woman died two years ago at age 40 from a rare type of cancer, and since then, her husband and sons have set out to help others battling the disease.
For the second year, Arthur Moore Jr., along with his mother, Barbara, sister Lori and two sons, Samuel, 13, and David, 11, went to the UPMC Cancer Center in North Strabane Township to mark Jennifer’s birthday.
The family on Friday hand-delivered the gift cards they purchased for cancer patients in need of financial assistance. The JEN Fund, an acronym for “joyful, exciting new day,” was founded when Arthur and his sons decided to help others on Jennifer’s birthday.
“Two years ago, the boys lost their mom, Jen, and we wanted to do something for her birthday, as we always spent money for her for gifts,” Arthur said.
“When we all three put our heads together, we decided to work it out to buy gas cards for people that needed the support because we were in the situation and had a hard time ourselves.”
Arthur recounted how the family regularly traveled from their home in Clarksville to Washington and Pittsburgh for Jennifer’s treatment. Between the tears, he laughed while remembering how his sons used to curl up and sleep inside hospital windowsills.
The boys have a lawn-mowing job, and they use part of their earnings to buy Toys R Us gift cards for children with cancer.
Arthur solicits donations from the community and also sets aside money from his paychecks.
This year, the Moores raised $2,150 for UPMC patients, compared to $1,700 the previous year.
“My personal opinion is, every paycheck you always end up throwing away $5 somewhere along the line, so it’s just as easy to throw it in for a gift card for someone else,” Arthur said.
Jennifer was diagnosed with a mediastinal germ cell tumor behind her breastbone in 2009.
The tumor disappeared several months later but returned along with additional tumors on her lungs in December 2010.
Even while undergoing cancer treatment, Jennifer continued to coach youth soccer in Bethlehem-Center School District and organize Kicking for Cancer fundraisers at the elementary school, which raised money for the American Cancer Society.
JEN Fund donations also are made in honor of Arthur’s father, Arthur Moore Sr., who died of cancer this year.
The Moores proudly wore their Kicking for Cancer T-shirts, and they all had bear claws dangling from their necks – mementos made from the bear Arthur Sr. had taken down with his bow.
While the Moores do not meet any of the patients who receive their gift cards, because of patient confidentiality, the recipients are given a letter explaining the Moores’ story and the goal of the JEN Fund.
Shawna Griese, manager at UPMC Cancer Center, shared stories about patients who have benefited from the Moores’ donations.
One woman with financial hardships, who had never heard of a gift card, said “it was magic at the pump” when she used her gas card. A 64-year-old man who had only 80 percent insurance coverage and no money to pay for medication received Giant Eagle gift cards in June, but he has been holding onto them since.
“He just started crying and said, ‘I’m going to save these cards for Thanksgiving so that my daughter and I can have a great holiday,’” Griese said. “You never know when it’s going to be your last Thanksgiving together. I can’t tell you the tears that we’ve had in here. It just makes such a difference.”
Donations to the JEN Fund can be mailed to P.O. Box 64, Clarksville, PA 15322.