By providing daily necessities, the Reaching for Relief Problem Solvers help families stay with their loved ones who are in ICUs.
Families called to the hospital, after a medical emergency affects a loved one, often find themselves without the basic necessities. Project Reaching for Relief was created to fill this need for those families who stay overnight in the pediatric and neo-natal intensive care units at Halifax Health.
Reaching for Relief was started by Sierra Bice, Ethan Bellinger, Nicole Perilli, Kayla Colandrea, Rida Muneer and Mia Scarcella, for their Community Problem Solving project in Diane Tomko’s Flagler Palm Coast High School class.
“At the hospital they are tending to the patients, so we wanted to help the families,” SIERRA BICE, Reaching for Relief team member
The project’s mission was a personal one for Nicole.
“Basically it had to do with personal experiences and me personally,” Nicole said. “Years ago I was in a car accident, and my sister had been in a coma, and my family stayed for multiple nights. My mom was not prepared with anything and she didn’t want to leave.”
Nicole recalled the difference a group of moms made by coming to the hospital with little bags of items and a prepaid cell phone.
“This is what sparked our interest in this project,” Nicole said. “But we wanted to make it larger and have a bigger impact.”
“At the hospital they are tending to the patients, so we wanted to help the families,” Sierra said.
The group started brainstorming over the summer, so they would be ready to implement their ideas by November.
“We came up with a project and called it Reaching for Relief,” Rida said. “We contacted the director of public relations and collected data on which departments would benefit the most, and came up with the neonatal and pediatric ICUs.”
The group embroidered and silk-screened canvas bags with their purple logo and filled them with the needed items. The bags will be distributed, from the nursing stations, when needed.
The bags were embroidered with the help and sewing machines, of Joanne Whaley and Linda Longo.
“We left surveys with the families to see what they would want while they were there,” Ethan said. “We listed items so they could rate what they would want.”
The first 50 bags, filled with soap, shampoo, conditioner, dental needs, paper and pen, a deck of cards, and some special cards of encouragement, were delivered to the hospital in November.
“Elementary students made 355 cards for the bags,” Ethan said.
Reaching for Relief is more than filling comfort bags. The team created a flier of facts for the waiting rooms that include: local restaurants that deliver to the hospital, Uber and taxi services, stores and hotels that are close to the hospital.
The team has worked at getting items donated.
“We had one woman find us online, who emailed us,” Rida said. “She travels a lot and brought us hotel soap, and
“I know some dentists, and have asked for tooth brushes and toothpaste,” Sierra added.
The team has also had fundraisers with Chik-fil-A and Krispy Crème doughnuts, and established a Gofundme account for additional supplies, like the canvas bags.
Along with social media, the group has been getting their message out at events like the Palm Coast Christmas parade.
“We handed out candy with our business cards attached,” Nicole said. “We’ve seen more traffic on social media since.”
As the team works toward the State Problem Solvers competition in Orlando in March, they continue to enhance their project.
“We want to get some blankets,” Sierra said. “I am reaching out to different places, including the airlines.”
One need they hope to meet came from a teacher who was a patient after a car accident. The team hopes to add phone chargers in the waiting rooms, or make them available at the nursing station.