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Thursday, December 20, 2012 - Local students help spread holiday cheer to SJH pediatric patients

Students from Caroline L. Reutter School in Franklinville visited South Jersey Healthcare’s Regional Medical Center to spread holiday cheer with Santa and deliver gifts to the hospital’s pediatric patients.

Sixth-grade students from Caroline L. Reutter School sit with Santa and the presents they collected for pediatric patients. From left to right, top row: Gabrielle Polonsky, Hector Agosto, Lexi Freeman, Lauren Warfield, Kayla Decesari and Carley Parker. Bottom row: Shyanne Snead, Jordyn Cudd, Jenna McCarty and Mikenzie Wengert.

Ten sixth-grade students, along with the school principal Ted Peters, collected five large bags full of more than 200 toys, games, dolls and more at a recent school dance to donate to children in SJH’s pediatric unit. The student group went room-to-room with Santa, delivering the toys and bringing smiles to the faces of many young patients. After making their way through the pediatric unit, the students also visited patients in SJH’s new pediatric emergency room.

Tara Nzo of Vineland and her 5-week old daughter Kylie Vu received a gift from the students and visited with Santa during Kylie’s stay in the pediatric unit. 

“Instead of charging an admission fee at our recent school dance, we asked students to bring in one unwrapped toy,” said Peters. “I was glad to see how excited the students were to deliver the toys to the children in the hospital.”

Peters explained that this is one of many donation events he has been engaging the students in, including a canned food drive for Thanksgiving. The rest of the toys collected by the students will be given out to patients by staff throughout the holiday season and also used in the pediatric unit’s playroom.  

“Donations like these make a huge impact on our patients and truly benefit the community as a whole,” said Dawn O’Neill, R.N., B.S.N., C.P.N, pediatric nurse manager at SJH. “We are incredibly grateful for the effort that the students and the school went through to make this toy donation to our unit possible. The students spread more holiday spirit to our patients, parents and families, and our staff than they will ever know. Because of their efforts we will have plenty of toys in our playroom for patients to enjoy while they get well.”

SJH is a nonprofit, integrated health care system, providing access to a continuum of health services. SJH provides hospital services, numerous community health clinics, home health services, and specialty services, which serve the medical and health care needs of southern New Jersey residents.