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Never Ever Give Up: Supporting Kids and Families Fighting Cancer

George Willis, UPS Vice President of Operations, was at a charity golf tournament in California in 2011 when he met Jessie and Erik Rees.

Jessie was a beautiful little 11-year-old girl who had more heart than a tiger, and more energy than anyone should have with what she was going through,” remembers Willis.

At the time, Jessie was in the middle of a ten month battle with two brain tumors. To spread hope, joy and love to other kids who were fighting cancer, Jessie began filling jars with her own toys and games.  These jars became known as JoyJars®. Her dad shipped them to other sick kids and each JoyJar cost the Rees family about $20.

“She wanted kids going through chemo to open these jars and have their spirits lifted, because it hurt so bad,” says Willis. “How can you not fall in love with that?”

JoyJars lit up the faces of sick kids. Word got around. The Joy Factory – the space where the family packed their JoyJars – soon outgrew Jessie’s bedroom, then filled the Rees family’s garage.

Jessie lost her battle with cancer on January 5, 2012, but her “Never Ever Give Up” motto has continued to inspire people across the globe.



Requests for JoyJars now come from 196 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses. More than 4,000 orders come from parents who deliver the cheerful gifts straight to their sick kids. JoyJars arrive in hospital rooms in 49 states and 11 foreign countries. And the Jessie Rees Foundation just reached a partnership agreement with the largest children’s hospital in the world, in Cairo, Egypt.

UPS wanted to support the Jessie Rees Foundation with financial, volunteer and logistic support to help Jessie reach her goal of bringing joy to pediatric cancer patients currently in treatment all across the globe. We are the official carrier of JoyJars and UPSers have participated in events to pack and fill them. The Never Ever Give Up campaign’s 2012 goal – 50,000 JoyJars delivered in all – lies well within reach.

Want to get involved? Here are three ways to help:

  1. Donate a like on their Facebook page
  2. Join Team NEGU
  3. Join the Joy Squad
Category: Caring for Communities, Community
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    Comments [1]

  1. Outstanding article!! George Willis is a phenomonal man!!! I met him at Jessie’s Gala last January. Thank you!!!

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