Not only is this a fun event, but for the children being treated at the McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White, it is also a welcomed break from doctor’s visits and IV fluids.
“[At these events] Hannah gets to have fun and be normal in the hospital, especially when she’s here so often,” said Temple resident, Melinda Sullivan, whose daughter is being treated for cancer. “And everybody participating is so excited and happy and having fun.”
The event, called Popcorn and PJs, is part of the monthly events put on by the Junior League of Bell County, a volunteer group made up of women hoping to bring joy and encouragement to children in need.
Every child, well enough to leave their room, was invited to come down and participate in making their own fleece pillow from a variety of prints that featured animals, sports and even sock monkeys. They were also treated to popcorn, candy and a visit from the Chick-fil-a cow—also donning a pair of pajamas.
This event was part of the group’s year-long community project called: Project SMILE (Sharing Moments In Laughter and Encouragement), which has focused specifically on the patients at the children’s hospital.
“It just gives us an opportunity to come in and do hands-on volunteering,” said Junior League President, Pam Lanham. “We always say that when we leave here, we’re changed.”
While this month’s event was all about pajamas and movie snacks, other events have been holiday themed and even carnival themed.
“[At these events] Hannah gets to have fun and be normal in the hospital.”
But providing crafts and games for the kids is not the only way the Junior League helps.
“We have welcome bags that we give to all of our patients that come to our events and those who can’t leave their rooms,” said Nikki Morrow, chair of the Junior League. “We fill them with things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, Chapstick and other items they might need while they’re staying in the hospital.”
The group also provides patients at the children’s hospital the chance to work on scrapbook pages to express their feelings about their stay and encourage others.
“They can choose the scrapbook cart on their TV menu in their rooms and have a nurse bring it to them,” Ms. Morrow said. “Our goal is to have a scrapbook that patients can work on and leave in the hospital for other patients to look at and give them words of encouragement.”
Regina Phinney, Manager of Patient & Family Support Services for the children’s hospital said the volunteers from the Junior League of Bell County not only bring fun activities to get the patients’ minds off of their illnesses, but they fill a need.
“Our volunteers come mainly during the day, so the volunteers that come in the evenings are great,” she said. “The evening events give families who work during the day a chance to participate.”
And while the children’s hospital loves its group volunteers who offer events in the evenings, Ms. Phinney said there is also a big need right now for daytime volunteers.
If you are interested in a volunteering a few hours a week, please contact Regina Phinney at (254) 935-4265 or email@example.com.