The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Friend’ donations go to newborn ICU

The Student Health Advisory Committee is asking people at the U to donate a friend and brighten someone’s day.

From plush Jeff Gordon dolls to bright, stuffed SpongeBob SquarePants figures, the committee has collected nearly 100 toys, which it will donate to the University Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

The efforts are part of a program called “Bear Hugs for Babies,” which the student committee has run for the past three years.

The goal of the Student Health Advisory Committee is to collect 150 stuffed animals-a goal that health educator and committee organizer Jason Gillman says it expects to meet and hopes to exceed.

Committee members praised the community for its participation and encouraged further donations.

“The public is very receptive when they realize how scary of an experience the [newborn ICU] is,” said Marlana Li, chairperson elect of the Student Health Advisory Committee.

Gillman says the project does more than just provide these premature newborns with a friend.

“It brings a more human side to the medical field,” Gillman said. “That’s why it’s just as much for the parents.”

Li agrees. “The parents especially are under a lot of anxiety and this is symbolic of all the support and compassion of society,” she said.

The committee representatives say the hospital has been welcoming and receptive to their efforts as well.

“The doctors and nurses are overwhelmed by the compassion and generosity of the people who recognize these newborns,” Li said.

Director of communication outreach for the U hospital, Sandi Martin, confirmed Li’s comment.

“It’s a wonderful program that the staff and unit really appreciate,” she said.

“The parents especially love to know someone is thinking about their babies by donating these teddy bears.”

Donation boxes were placed in eight locations across campus during the last week of March and the collection will continue through April 26.

Since the toys will be delivered at once to the staff at the newborn ICU to distribute at their will, many students on the Student Health Advisory Committee will not be able to see the rewards of their efforts first-hand.

However, according to Gillman, “just knowing what they’re doing is enough reward in itself.”

The donation boxes can be found at the Office of Residential Living, Bennion Community Service Center, Union, Marriott Library and dispersed throughout U medical facilities.

Due to the fact that these donations will be benefiting newborns in intensive care, the stuffed animals must be sterile and new with tags still attached.

To make a donation, drop a toy into one of the various bins on campus or contact Jason Gillman at jason.gillman shs.utah.edu, or call 585-1274.

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