Whether it’s buying coffee for the person behind you, leaving snacks on the porch for busy delivery drivers, shoveling the drive of an elderly neighbor or doing an extra good deed, the end of the year often shines a light on the many ways people show kindness to each other.
UCHealth employees across the state are no exception.
Food drive supports Pikes Peak State College
After a UCHealth staff member heard Pikes Peak State College (PPSC)’s Community Table was having trouble filling its food pantry, staff in southern Colorado responded.
“It wasn’t money that was needed, it was food,” said Amy Dempsey, special events coordinator for UCHealth’s Southern Colorado Region. “PPSC staff also shared there had been an uptick in the number of students who had been using the pantry over the last couple months, so we knew there was a huge need.”
Collection bins were placed at UCHealth Grandview Hospital, UCHealth Memorial Administrative Center, UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central and UCHealth Memorial Hospital North. Thanks to the generosity of staff, 700 items – canned soup and vegetables, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce and pasta, beans, toilet paper, even salt-and-pepper shakers and can openers – were donated within just over one week.
“When we dropped everything off, the team at PPSC was ecstatic,” said Dempsey. “They showed us the nearly empty shelves and knew this food would help get their students through another week or two.”
Dempsey said she hopes the drive raised awareness to the needs within the community and encourages others to help in the future.
Urgent care “family” adopts Steamboat Springs family
When Lauren Wright-Land, a patient access lead at UCHealth Urgent Care – Steamboat Springs, emailed her co-workers with the idea of adopting a family through a local Secret Santa organization, she was flooded with very positive and excited responses.
“Everyone’s willingness to participate reminded me how great of a team we have here,” said Wright-Land. “So much of our lives are spent with the people we work with, so we try to look for ways to add some fun in our days and make an impact in our community at the same time.”
This fall, staff decorated pumpkins for the front lobby. “The patients really got a kick out of it,” said Wright-Land. A few months ago, a handful of staff also volunteered with Routt County Humane Society.
As Secret Santas, team members purchased a number of winter items from their family’s wish list – snow boots and pants, warm jackets, hats and gloves, tennis shoes and an electric skillet.
“This is the kind of thing you do for others with people who are more than your coworkers – it’s just what our YVMC family does,” said Liz VandenHeuvel, patient access supervisor at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Santa and Mrs. Claus bring Christmas cheer to families in UCH’s NICU
Delivering presents around the world is a tall task. Lucky for Santa, he gets help from staff at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital when filling his sleigh.
“A gift drive was started by an employee years ago as a way to do something for our infants and their families,” said Lani Bowler, nurse manager at the neonatal intensive care unit at UCH. “Santa and Mrs. Claus then deliver the presents to our families and take photos. It’s definitely a morale boost, as it’s hard to have a child in the hospital.”
Close to 100 items are donated each year, including stuffed animals, books, clothing, blankets, hats and toys, and swings. The generosity of staff members has made a big impression on Bowler.
“The majority of the event is planned by people outside our unit, for our unit. I’m thankful for them and their willingness to contribute,” said Bowler. “We become very close with our families and to do something special for them during this time of year is fun.”
The gift of life in Northern Colorado
When there’s an increase in illness and snowy weather, there’s typically a decrease in blood donation. Employees in UCHealth’s northern Colorado region, however, help to keep donations coming.
“I know of at least 15 employees who have donated consistently this year at our various locations,” said Anna Johnson, manager of UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Centers in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley. “There aren’t many ways outside of donating blood where you can anonymously and positively change someone’s life.”
A regular blood donation can be completed in as little as 30 minutes, whereas platelet donation takes a little longer, somewhere between 60 minutes and two hours.
“Last year, we worked with the food and nutrition team at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies to give pies to our holiday platelet donors in December,” said Johnson. “We’re doing it again this year as a small token of appreciation for the time the donor took to potentially save another person’s life.”
Under the guidance of food services manager Mark Pavlidis, 60 pies – blueberry, cherry, pecan, pumpkin and apple – will be given away.
“All blood donations are needed during the holidays,” said Johnson, who has donated platelets regularly for the past six years. “In my opinion, donating blood is one of the fastest and most meaningful ways to contribute to a stranger, especially during the time of year when donations are most needed.”