The tradition of giving at St. Joseph’s Mercy gets personal for co-workers during the holidays.
It started in early December when the St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center Auxiliary made a $25,000 donation during its annual Christmas party. The giving has continued throughout the month and Mercy co-workers put the finishing touches by adopting families during the holiday season. Mercy co-workers will wrap up the season by serving as volunteers for the Mercy Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program.
“I know the spirit of Mercy is alive and well in everyone’s hearts as I’ve heard so many stories of our co-workers and physicians reaching out to those in need this holiday season,” said St. Joseph’s Mercy President Tim Johnsen. “So many departments and clinics are pitching in to help those less fortunate in the true spirit of the season.”
Co-workers from all Mercy departments have been a part of the volunteer Meals on Wheels workforce for several years. They drive their own vehicles and use their own gasoline. And many bring along their children to help out.
“They bring their families, they bring their kids,” said Diane Harry, director of senior adult services at St. Joseph’s Mercy. “All of our children grew up in this program. They learn what their civic responsibility is, to give back. There but for the grace of God go the rest of us.”
It’s one of many ways Mercy co-workers work to serve their community during the holiday season. And it includes helping co-workers in need and making donations to area charities.
The Mercy Sharing Committee invited all co-workers to join in bringing some cheer to families in need through the “Christmas mercy Gift Program.” Each department at St. Josephs’ Mercy chose a family and brought appropriate gifts to donate.
The result left the Mercy Women’s Center’s Roland Room overflowing with presents as department after department dropped off their gifts. And they did it in their own unique style. Maintenance dropped theirs off on a large cart, while the emergency room wheeled theirs in on a hospital bed. The gifts varied from family to family and included everything from clothing and food items to games and toys for the children.
“It was very overwhelming to see the generosity in the heart of our co-workers for the people in our community,” said Janice McCutcheon, director of the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center. “I was humbled, but I was so proud. I wish they could see the faces of the parents and the grandparents who are in dire straits but come in to get the gifts and see the tears.”
Mercy co-workers were able to help more than 40 local families, including 190 children.
McCutcheon shared some of the responses from parents after they received their gifts this week:
There was also a Mercy Associates Bake Sale to benefit the Cooper-Anthony Child Advocacy Center, which provides a comprehensive coordinated approach in response to allegations of child abuse. Children who may have been abused or who witness violent crimes are referred by the Arkansas State Police, Division of Children and Family Services or law enforcement for video-taped forensic interviews and evidentiary exams.
The community has also blessed St. Joseph’s Mercy with its generosity during the holiday season. Students from St. John’s Catholic School in Hot Springs donated toys to the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center. And Aeropostale donated “Aero Holiday Bear” teddy bears to St. Joseph’s Mercy as part of its community outreach program.
“Anyone who hears what our center does and the heart behind it, they want to get involved. Everyone loves children. They want to get on board and help them,” McCutcheon said. “It was so special to have St. John’s children want to reach out to other children. The difference that those kids make in other kids’ lives is very touching.”
Mercy provides the community a benefit of more than $18.7 million through charity care, community outreach services, cash and in-kind donations, workforce enhancement, fund-raising and Medicaid subsidies.