Highland News Leader

Hospital employees donate carload of gifts — and the car — to needy family

For more than a decade, the staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital have adopted families through Highland Area Christian Service Ministry (HACSM) to provide gifts and food for those in need. But when the Emergency Department colleagues decided to adopt a family, they were told all the families coordinated through HACSM had already been adopted.

During a department huddle, it was suggested the team help a family who recently visited the Emergency Department. They had no car and needed a little help.

The whole plan came together like it was meant to be for this family. It was so heartwarming to see the efforts of everyone.

Janetta Feeny, assistant manager of the Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital

Employees reached out to the family about adopting them for the holidays and received a wish list of small items for the family’s two daughters. The response from colleagues was overwhelming, with a car load of gifts donated. Volunteers came in to wrap the gifts, and a member of the Facilities Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital volunteered to play Santa when the gifts were delivered.

“The mother of this family wanted nothing for her, just to make sure her girls were taken care of for Christmas,” said Teresa Cornelius, director of clinical services at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “The items she asked for were things the kids needed, not wanted. We knew this was the right family to help, and our colleagues gave more than I could have ever hoped.”

But the story of the family had such a strong impact on one nurse, he decided he needed to do more — so he donated his car to the family.

“The struggles this family was facing had a profound impact on one of our nurses,” said Amy Liefer, director of communications for St. Joseph’s Hospital. “He and his wife felt like they needed to do whatever they could to help. Donating their car was something that just felt like the right thing to do for them.”

However, the nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, had concerns of burdening the family with costs for insurance, licensing, and the title. Members of the Emergency Department and Pastoral Care worked over the next week to secure funding for each of those items. St. Vincent de Paul Society offered to pay for the first year of car insurance and contacted a mechanic to inspect the car and make any repairs needed. Another colleague at the hospital donated the money to pay for the license and title.

The struggles this family was facing had a profound impact on one of our nurses “He and his wife felt like they needed to do whatever they could to help. Donating their car was something that just felt like the right thing to do for them.

Amy Liefer, director of communications for St. Joseph’s Hospital

“The whole plan came together like it was meant to be for this family,” said Janetta Feeny, assistant manager of the Emergency Department. “It was so heartwarming to see the efforts of everyone.”

The week before Christmas, members of the staff, including the nurse and his family, delivered all the gifts to the family. The family was shocked at the number of gifts they were receiving, and the visit from Santa put a smile on the faces of everyone.

The surprises weren’t over though. After giving the family all the gifts, Santa announced there was another gift for her outside in the trunk of the car. When they opened the trunk, it was empty. Santa then told her since the trunk was empty, she better just take the whole car.

“This is a story straight out of the movies,” Liefer, said.

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