A bit of Christmas cheer found its way to family members who were visiting loved ones in the intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital Jefferson on Christmas Eve.
The St. Louis based non-profit Silent Night brought food and beverages to the waiting room outside of the ICU and Transitional Care Unit. Employees of Lowes in Festus delivered food and beverages from local restaurants and businesses including Bob Evans, Burger King, Domino’s, Panera Bread, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Shop N Save, Subway, Wal-Mart and Wendy’s.
Carolynne Kieffer, formerly of Festus, established Silent Night in 2008 as a means of helping individuals and family members make it through the difficult time that they experience when a loved one is hospitalized on Christmas Eve.
With the assistance of local businesses in each community, Silent Night has served families in hospitals in St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Joplin and Hannibal for more than five years.
"The sponsoring businesses are so generous. When we ask them to participate, they just say, "How can we help?'," Kieffer said. "The volunteers are special. They make a sacrifice, giving up their own Christmas Eve to help others. You never know when you are going to be the person in need of kindness."
This is the first year that Mercy Jefferson has participated with the program. Kieffer said the staff was gracious and thankful.
"We are blessed by our community to have such a showing of support for our patients and their families," said Eric Ammons, president at Mercy Hospital Jefferson. "We appreciate the organizational efforts of Silent Night and all of the businesses who contributed."
Volunteers from Lowes in Festus who delivered the food for families included Barbara O’Neal, Steven Westbrook and Amanda Flanders, Kieffer said.
"Lowes stores have been instrumental in serving as volunteers for Silent Night events throughout the state," Kieffer said.
Mildred Martin and her daughter Courtney Albert of Bonne Terre said they appreciated the support of the sponsors and volunteers as they waited with their loved one on Christmas Eve.
“This makes our situation a little more bearable,” Martin said. "You don’t realize how difficult this is until you’re here.”
Tina Boyet Courtway of Centerville was in the waiting room on Christmas Eve because her father was in the ICU. She said her family appreciated the food donations and the efforts of the volunteers. Her dad was discharged from the hospital before New Years Day.
"It was great. Christmas was kind of ruined for us, but they made it better." Boyet Courtway said. "We are hoping to be able to celebrate in January."
Silent Night is based in St. Louis, but Kieffer is familiar to many in Jefferson, Perry and Ste. Genevieve counties because of her work as a home economist and child development specialist for the University of Missouri Extension.