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Women’s Track Team Makes Valentine’s Day Special for Young Patients

February 17, 2015
By: WSU News

Shortly before Valentine’s Day, members of the women’s track and field squad made 35 bags stuffed with a variety of stickers, different colored hearts, bubbles, a plastic heart-shaped slinky and other miscellaneous themed items, which were given out to patients at the UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center.

The bags were to go to inpatients and others there for an extended period of time, according to Jody Stark-Cornetta, director of Volunteer Services. “It’s for several departments, including those who might be in for day surgery to make them feel better or to keep someone occupied who might be getting a cast put on in the emergency room.”

Senior Alana Fish, a communication major, said that candy was an item that wasn’t allowed to be placed in the bag because some kids have illnesses and could get sick really easily, so it was avoided as a precaution. The team instead decided to focus its efforts on placing arts and crafts items as well as other keepsakes inside the gift bags.

“It’s always good to keep yourself occupied during Valentine’s Day, whether it’s a rainy or a snowy day activity,” said Fish. “And it helps because they aren’t in school. Remember when you were in school and you would always get Valentine’s Day gifts from people in your class? Now they have something and it’s from a big group.”

Senior Alexandria McMahon, an occupational therapy major, agreed with the sentiment behind giving the children stickers along with miscellaneous arts and crafts supplies.

“We gave them craft-type items that you can keep forever,” said McMahon. “You can hang it in your rooms, you can give it to someone, whereas with candy, you eat it and it’s gone.”

In addition to the assorted knick-knacks inside the care packages, the squad gave gold beaded necklaces to represent the Worcester State school colors and give away a piece of Lancer pride.

“It was to let them know that the community cares about them,” said senior Shannon Trybus, a criminal justice major. “It can get pretty isolated in the hospital and you don’t have much contact with the outside world, so it’s nice to know people are thinking of you.”

Fish said the opportunity to make care packages was a great way to put a smile on the faces of the children in the pediatric unit.

“It felt like you are doing something to help them, even though you’re not treating anything, you’re giving them something to brighten up their day,” said Fish.

Junior Maddie Benson, an occupational therapy major, recalled one time she had to stay at the hospital. She remembered the gifts left by people and who visited her during her stay. In putting the bags together, Benson felt that she was making an impact in a similar fashion.

“Sometimes we all get absorbed in our own lives,” said Benson. “We have papers to do. I have practice to go. It’s nice to actually take the time out, get out of your own little bubble and do something good.”

“We wanted to do something that could change their attitude,” added Trybus. “It’s the little things that can help and make a difference.”

Stark-Cornetta was appreciative of the efforts of the Worcester State women’s track and field team to help put happy faces on the children at the UMass Memorial Medical Center.

“It’s great that teams are taking the time out of their practices for a fun project and giving back to the community in another way,” said Stark-Cornetta.

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