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BWH staff on Tower 5A and 7AB and at the Blood Bank rallied the compassion and generosity of their colleagues this month and collected thousands of dollars in gifts and cash donations to help soldiers here and in Iraq and families who have fallen on hard times this holiday season.
For the last four years, staff from Blood Bank Transfusion Service have created gift baskets with different themes, like movies, breakfast or gardening. This year, with the OR and several more clinical labs contributing baskets, Blood Bank Transfusion Service raffled off 20 baskets and raised more than $3,000 by selling $1 raffle tickets. The funds support the Women’s Lunch Place, a daytime shelter on Newbury Street that provides food and shelter to homeless and abused women.
“We get excited to do this every year, and everyone contributes to it. It’s a great way for us to give back,” said Hilda Irizarry, a Blood Bank medical technologist.
On 7AB, staff adopted a single mother of three, who is putting her life back together after getting out of an abusive relationship. Tower 7AB Nurse Manager Kim Ternavan, BSN, RN, volunteers with Project Hope, an organization that provides transitional housing and assistance to abused women, and newly hired nurse Megan Shabbott, RN, has always organized a holiday gift-giving effort where she worked in Connecticut.
“The outpouring of gifts was so impressive. Staff donated gift certificates and clothes for the mom and her kids, and the kids will be receiving Spider Man toys and Hot Wheels, just as they asked for,” Ternavan said.
The Hem/Onc staff have been adopting a family at the holidays for 15 years or more, with Nancy L. Murphy, RN, leading the effort. This year, Hem/Onc doubled its efforts by adopting a family and the 399th Combat Support Hospital in Mosul, Iraq, where Major Deb Heath, a Hem/Onc float pool nurse, and Sgt. Saul Damier, a surgery technologist in Connors Center, are serving for 18 months.
The nursing and medical staff and everyone at BWH whose duties take them to 5A—including Physical Therapy, Care Coordination, Pharmacy, Social Work, Radiation Oncology and others—donated gifts, gift certificates, calling cards and other items and shipped them to the soldiers in Iraq.
“Calling cards are huge over there for the troops. They can’t get enough of them,” Murphy said. Hem/Onc’s extended families even got involved, like Nurse Manager Eileen Molina’s family. Her daughter, Julie, a nursing student at the University of Connecticut, collected more than $500 in pre-paid calling cards at school to support the effort. Hem/Onc will continue sending care packages to Mosul through October.
And this week, troops from Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod came to BWH to pick up dozens of gifts for a fellow soldier’s family facing a difficult Christmas. A Cape woman who serves with the 3d Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment has been in a coma for more than a month.
“Every year we adopt a family, and this woman, who was supposed to be deployed to Iraq, has been in a coma (not at BWH) for months, and she has her husband and three small children,” Murphy said. “It’s just a tragic story, and we wanted to do our part to help.”
The staff contributed dozens of wrapped gifts for this family, including some gifts for the father even though he told them he did not want anything. He’s getting a San Fancisco 49ers sweatshirt and some other items, while his children will receive dozens of toys, jackets and clothes.
“We all feel pretty lucky to be where we are, so we adopt a family that’s not so lucky,” Murphy said.
Dana Robinson and several other soldiers from the Otis 3-126 Aviation Regiment, were on hand at BWH Tuesday to collect gifts for this family. “It’s amazing how everyone here at Brigham and Women’s have been willing to help,” he said. “It’s the true spirit of this holiday season.”