St. John’s has launched several initiatives to help those in need during the holiday season.
Again this year, Christmas trees in the cafeterias at St. John’s Hospitals in Springfield and Lebanon, as well as St. John’s Clinic in Rolla will provide more than holiday decoration – the ornaments adorning these trees provide information on co-workers needing assistance.
Each year, since 1993 when Sister Shirley Murphy started the St. John’s Family Christmas Tree program, hospital departments and clinic offices have helped co-workers who’ve requested assistance. To date, more than 250 families and 700 children of co-workers and volunteers from Springfield, Lebanon and Rolla areas have benefitted.
Co-workers and volunteers can confidentially apply to participate in the program and request help in purchasing gifts for their children age 18 and younger who are living in their household. These anonymous gift request forms are hung on a tree, with each “ornament” listing age, gender, clothing and shoe sizes and other items on the children’s wish lists. Departments and offices willing to help are asked to take ornaments from the tree and prepare gifts or provide a holiday meal, which is often requested.
Patients and their families also receiving support
The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for families who are hospitalized or are grieving the loss of a loved one.
St. John’s Hospital in Springfield offers a special holiday menu for patients on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Food and Nutrition Services will hand deliver personalized Christmas cards to patients in the days preceding Christmas, providing flameless candles on food trays and be visiting each waiting room with Christmas cookies, eggnog or cider between 8 -10 pm on Christmas Eve.
“Our thought was, if you are spending Christmas Eve in a hospital waiting room, you need a little extra TLC,” says Donna Medlin, Food and Nutrition Services Director.
Medlin said there’s also some buzz in the kitchen about a group of co-workers wanting to go Christmas caroling in the halls.
Also inside St. John’s Hospital, patients, visitors and staff are treated to a variety of holiday concerts in the 6th floor Chapel. Performances from area high school and church choirs, and couple of concerts in the chapel during the Christmas season, including an international Christmas concert featuring Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra from Krakow, Poland are free and open to the public. The concerts are also broadcast live to all patient room televisions throughout the hospital.
Donations come in from all over the community: churches, youth groups, schools, after school projects, and individuals.
Making it easier for children hospitalized during the holidays are donated items, typically clothing, teenage items, Christmas cards/projects, books, and new stuffed animals given to St. John’s Children’s Hospital.
“We make sure that each child on the pediatrics unit and pediatric intensive care unit, receive a few new, developmentally appropriate, gift items on Christmas day,” says Cadee Teaford, child life specialist. “We also provide holiday crafts and activities for the children and their families to participate in at the bedside or in the playroom. We do our best to ensure that each child and family can experience as 'normal' a holiday as possible while they are at St. John's!”
St. John’s Hospice programsrecently held tree-lighting ceremonies in Springfield and Berryville, Ark. to honor or memorialize patients and families.
Nearly 100 people gathered Friday for St. John’s Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center’s Christmas party for the families of pediatric oncology / hematology patients, who typically can’t attend public holiday festivities due to the nature of their illnesses. The evening was filled with music and a visit from Santa Claus (and photos available free to all patients).
The St. John’s Clinic in Aurora, and St. John’s Hospital Finance and Home Care Billing departments prepared gift baskets and other donations for the event.
Other donated items included:
Remembering Soldiers Abroad,Community Agencies
Service men and women who are serving abroad and can’t be home for Christmas will also be remembered. Physicians and staff at St John’s Clinic - OB/GYN - Smith-Glynn-Callaway, for instance, are collecting items to go in a care package to be sent to a co-worker’s spouse who has been deployed to Afghanistan. And like the clinic, the Home Care Billing Department in Springfield is also putting together shoeboxes to mail members of the US Armed Forces who are away from home.
Other clinic offices and hospital departments have also selected community agencies they know need assistance with food, toys, and other items. Again this year, St. John’s Clinic physicians and co-workers are hosting the Force for Good (FFG) Holiday Campaign, a bi-annual fundraiser for important causes in our area communities. To date, the FFG has raised more than $1 million. This holiday season’s campaign, “Reason for the Season,” sought donations to meet the needs of struggling individuals and families across our St. John's Clinic communities, including Springfield, Joplin, Rolla, and regions are served by The Salvation Army.
The need is great this year and the Salvation Army was able to extend their services, according to Norman Grainger, thanks to FFG. Funds are being used for the annual Christmas Basket program of food and toys and emergency services such as rent, utilities, prescriptions, transportation. Salvation Army received $60,000 and additionally Force for Good provided Help Give Hope $2,500 to assist in their Christmas program for families, in particular children in Greene, Webster and Christian Counties and $3,000 to Loaves and Fishes Food Bank in Berryville, Ark. which serves the Carroll County area.
Also in Springfield, The Marian Center, in addition to adopting a co-worker, is collecting snacks for the Boys and Girls Town, while St John’s Clinic - OB/GYN - Smith-Glynn-Callaway is collecting non-perishable food items for The Rare Breed shelter. So far, 147 pounds of food have already been collected for the shelter.
Elsewhere, St. John’s Clinic – Steelville and St. John’s Clinic – Mountain Grove are both responding to needs within their communities by adopting local families, who they’ve selected and contacted for permission to provide clothing, toys, etc. The gifts are wrapped and given to the family along with purchased food.
Other needs include those of the Strafford and Marshfield Schools, which the staff from the Strafford Internal Medicine and Strafford Family Medicine facilities is addressing. Donation boxes will be located in the waiting rooms at the clinic for collecting food, toys, coats and clothing, primarily for school-age children. Donations will be divided between the two schools. And in Aurora, the staff at the St. John’s Clinic in Aurora has chosen the Pierce City Community Action group for their support, as well as the recently established food bank at the local elementary school. Aurora’s TriCo Pregnancy Resource Center will also receive several cases of Diapers.
St. John’s Hospital - Lebanon sponsored Laclede Industries this year, with staff and patients responding to requests for the gifts for those in need. A truckload will be distributed Monday.