By Lauren Wanko
Twenty-one-month-old Faith Johnson is in the hospital. She’s missing out on all the typical holiday excitement, which is why these teens decided to bring a bit of the Christmas spirit to her and the other young patients at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital.
“Sometimes you’re very lonely and sometimes people come in and you don’t feel lonely no more,” said patient James Smith.
Eight-year-old James is eager to join in.
When asked what it felt like to have the girls come in and sing, James said, “It feels like I’m a rock star!”
While James perfects his rock star moves, these Red Bank Catholic High School students, all part of Casey Caregivers — a community service club — stroll the hospital hallway for the next patient. They find 4-year-old Gavin Molloy. He’s given a homemade blanket, which happens to be in his favorite color.
Gavin’s even inspired to sing for us.
Mom Heather Saffert is grateful for the distraction.
“It’s made a huge difference because it’s been a long and boring day,” she said.
“Even though it’s a couple of minutes we really do make an impact on families and patients so that makes it worthwhile,” said Alexa Della Fera of Casey’s Caregivers.
Casey Caregivers volunteers fund raise for their homemade gifts. They visit hospital patients throughout the year.
“We want them to learn to give back to others so they will do this in their adult life as well,” said Mindy Fellingham, Casey’s Caregivers advisor.
“It’s very important. We are all very lucky so good to help out those less fortunate,” Della Fera said.
There are more than 50 volunteer groups who visit the K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital during the holiday season. Santa Claus always stops by, often times more than once here. One group even brings cookies and milk for the patients to leave out in their rooms on Christmas Eve. Some parents say that it is all especially meaningful because right now, they are only focused on ensuring their children recover quickly.
These volunteers even put Faith’s mom at ease about spending the holiday season in the hospital.
“It made me feel a lot better not being out there doing my Christmas shopping like I should be for my daughter,” said Elizabeth Duncan.
As for James, he says he’s already feeling better and feeling the Christmas spirit.