Holiday-outreachIn addition to what was featured in the December 28 HUPdate, several others helped make the holiday season happier for those less fortunate. Blackwell-foodNearly 60 volunteers from throughout Penn Medicine helped out at Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s annual holiday party last month.  And close to 35 employees spent the previous Saturday wrapping presents for the event. In all, nearly 5,000 adults and children received an early holiday meal, and each child received a present.

And, for the fourth year, Respiratory Care Services collected food for the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. David Moore, administrative director, said they collected nearly a ton of food this year, several boxes of clothes and just over $500 in donations from various departments throughout the hospital. “In the four years we have sponsored this food drive, we have collected nearly six tons of food.”

And while residents in local communities received much of our outreach efforts, marines on the other side of the world benefitted as well.

Blackwell-food-twoLance Corporal Drew Sestito, U.S. Marine Corp, is based in a remote location in Afghanistan, as part of a NATO security force, with “very poor conditions, including a lack of showers, eating facility or any basic needs,” said his father, John Sestito, associate executive director, CPUP, and COO of Neonatology. Knowing of this difficult situation, Debra Watson, billing manager for Neonatology & Newborn Services; Faye Banks, accounts receivable coordinator for that area; and Kate Fitzpatrick, clinical director of Nursing Operations, came up with a great idea:  collect food, toiletries, warm clothing, magazines and books, and other “comforts of home” for Drew and his fellow marines to help make the holidays – and life in general – a little brighter.

Word of the drive quickly spread through ICN Nursing, CPUP, HUP and PAH Neonatology, and Pediatrics at CHOP. In the end, enough was collected to fill 108 boxes! Corporal James Hart of Security, a former marine, and Security Officer Ronald Emerson went with Watson and Fitzpatrick on their days off to bring the packages to the post office and an anonymous donor paid for all the shipping, Sestito said.

Girard-ChoirAlthough communications from his son are infrequent due to where he’s stationed, Sestito did hear from him about the special delivery. “He was so overwhelmed by the supplies and the thoughtfulness of people he didn’t even know,” Sestito said. “He said it was cold and the warm clothes and especially the food supplies are so welcome. He never thought he would be happy to have ramen noodles and Slim Jim’s for dinner!” In addition, Respiratory Care Services, where Sestito worked as director for 14 years, started a drive of its own last month and sent the additional items to his son.

 “My colleagues have played a large role in helping me through each day” of his son’s deployment, he said.  “Their kindness and thoughtfulness is something I’ll never forget.”

Top Photos: Many employees volunteered their time to wrap presents and serve food for those attending Councilwoman Blackwell's annual holiday party.

Photo below: Members of Girard Academic Music Choir peformed for patients and staff in Perelman Center during the holiday season.


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