The students delivered 200 boo boo bags to the hospital on Friday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Richmond Consolidated School cares.
They care about every child in the emergency room, scared and nervous. They want those children to feel like everything is going to be OK.
On Friday, 13 seventh-graders from the school piled out of the school bus in front of Berkshire Medical Center with arms full of care packages for those children.
The "boo boo bags" are filled with coloring books, crayons, toys, finger puppets and a comic book based on teacher Dan Sadlowski's book "Finding Brooklyn."
The nurses in the emergency room now have 200 of those bags to help make their youngest patients feel comfortable.
"They come in, they're nervous, and all the nurses are running around trying to get something for the kids. We thought it would be a good project to create the boo boo bags," school nurse Cristina Lenfest said.
She said a child's first visit to the hospital is when "you are setting them up for a lifetime view of health care." Often, parents end up in such a rush to get the child there, they don't have time to pack up anything to entertain and calm the children.
Nurse Missy Abderrahim knows firsthand how much those bags could help put a child's mind at ease. But she hasn't had an organized effort to provide it in years. She said there was once a project in which senior citizens knitted blankets for children to hold, but that was years ago.
"We, as employees, have occasionally brought in stuff. We go to the dollar store and pick up a bunch of stuff, have a box. Or maybe there is a stuffed animal we could get a child," Abderrahim said.
Lenfest said she came up with the idea earlier this year. A friend of hers had a child in the emergency room elsewhere and had received a bag. She contacted Abderrahim to craft a project to not only create the boo boo bags but also teach the students about health care. Abderrahim came to the class to tell them about her profession and the work she does day in and day out.
"I went in there and stayed a little bit over because the kids were really into it. They all asked me questions. They just asked a million questions. They were so excited and interested and engaged in the class. There were always hands up to ask. It was a fun day," she said.
And then the seventh-graders put together the bags. Lenfest even incorporated a technology lesson by holding a contest in which each student designed a logo to stick on the bags, and the students voted on the best.
"It was nice because we worked with STEM and technology," Lenfest said.
When the class arrived, the hospital had set up a reception to thank the students. Nurses, doctors and administrators praised the students, saying they all made their jobs easier.
"We will use them," Abderrahim said. "We see a ton of kids in the ER. ... It will help."
Lenfest said she hopes the project will continue into the future. And she hopes it will instill the school's philosophy of caring for others.
"It is really creating empathy for others," she said.