CHICAGO (CBS) —Most people think of National Lollipop Day as an occasion to enjoy a sweet treat. For one Chicagoland organization, lollipops are also a way to help kids going through cancer treatment.
Jen Coffle and Kim Bavilacqua are founders of a non-profit called Handing H.O.P.E. The lollipops they recommend, according to the organization’s website, “sooth the suffering children experience from cancer treatments by giving naturally sweetened lollipops.”
The original idea for these healthier lollipops came from Dr. John Bruinsma and his wife, Debbie Bruinsma. They are a married couple who both work in the dental industry, he as a dentist and and Debbie as a dental hygienist.
“We were looking for a good sugar free candy for our patients.” said Dr. Bruinsma.
The couple received a call from Handing H.O.P.E. and worked together to find a healthier lollipop that would help kids undergoing cancer treatment.
“The natural sugar sweetener within comes from birch and xylitol,” Coffle said. “They are soy free, dairy free, nut free, and gluten free but they are not free of great taste.”
Handing H.O.P.E. currently has 20 lollipop trees at 15 hospitals in nine states, with plans to expand nationally.
“These would probably be something I would eat every day to help me with my spit,” said a patient at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “They taste really good.”