(EFFINGHAM, IL) – HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital’s Hugs & Cuddles Program has helped relieve the anxiety of pediatric patients for a number of years. This popular program provides a teddy bear to children who are at St. Anthony’s for various health care services to give them comfort and support. Each child gets to take their teddy bear home with them to remind them of their bravery. Launched originally in 2011 for kids facing surgery, it was expanded to children who are having an x-ray or CT scan, then most recently expanded for kids who have to visit the Emergency department.
The Hugs & Cuddles program launched in the Emergency department recently got a boost, thanks to a generous donation of stuffed animals and contributions from Heartland Dental employees. The donation was directed by two Heartland Dental employees, Kylie Fehrenbacher and Tracey Warren, as a service project for their participation in the “The Power of One” Program through Heartland Dental.
“Power of One” is a unique leadership course taught at Heartland Dental to smaller groups of team members across a span of six months, meeting once a month. Supervisors nominate employees for the course. During each class, students work through their own personal barriers and create action plans to carry out goals. One requirement of the course is to choose a service project to work on with a classmate, and Kylie Fehrenbacher and Tracey Warren chose the hospital’s Hugs & Cuddles Program as their project.
Through their service project, Fehrenbacher and Warren conducted a stuffed animal collection drive throughout September amongst their co-workers. Through the drive, there were 90 stuffed animals collected that will benefit pediatric ER patients. In addition, 165 Heartland Dental employees made cash donations to the project for a total of $900. These donations will be used to purchase additional teddy bears which will also be given to pediatric patients.
Kylie Fehrenbacher shared what the experience meant to her. “Personally, this has been a truly rewarding project. The response we received from co-workers was amazing!” she said. “So many people connected with our project by either having children who have received bears from St. Anthony’s or knew a child who has. Listening to their stories and simply knowing we can help make a child’s hospital stay a little brighter made it all worth it.”
HSHS St. Anthony’s Foundation is the fundraising organization of St. Anthony’s and was established to ensure the continuing growth, stability and future of health care in this region. For more information about the HSHS St. Anthony’s Foundation or to contribute to hospital programs such as the Hugs & Cuddles Program, contact Michael Wall, Director of Philanthropy, at (217) 347-1854, or email Michael.Wall@hshs.org