Holiday time is often associated with excitement and anticipation, but for hundreds of Toronto families with kids who suffer from life-threatening or lifelong illnesses, a mix of emotions come into play as parents juggle the needs of their children with seasonal preparations. National charity Chai Lifeline Canada organized its biggest bash of the year – a Mega Chanukah Party – on November 25 to give families a reprieve. Dozens of free activities were offered, from laser tag to cosmic mini golf and bowling, to cybersports, billiards, a bouncy castle, holiday crafts, and much more. Mounds of gifts – piled on half a rollerblade rink – were handed out to the hundreds of children in attendance. The Mega Chanukah Party is one of dozens of free initiatives offered by Chai Lifeline Canada all focused on helping families, including counseling, volunteer support to bring an extra measure of adult attention and stability to children’s lives, tutoring for children missing extended periods of school, family retreats, sibling programs, peer and professional support, and summer camps for seriously ill kids that help families retain a sense of normalcy and hope while fighting even the most dire pediatric diseases.

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