It Takes a Village

December 7, 2022 by Emily Shreve

3,000 holiday gifts for hospital staff made possible by community donors and volunteers

From a pandemic to a “tripledemic,” it’s no secret that health care workers have been working around the clock for the past two-plus years responding to one health crisis after another. Recently, Howard County General Hospital (HCGH), a Johns Hopkins Medicine partner hospital in Columbia, Maryland, showed its appreciation for its dedicated staff through an effort supported by hundreds of local donors, volunteers, and vendors.

Volunteers assemble thousands of boxes.

“HCGH is beyond grateful for the courage, strength, and resiliency demonstrated by all of our staff members,” says Elizabeth Edsall Kromm, BSPH ’07 (PhD), vice president for Population Health and Advancement. “Through the generous support of our Caregiver Fund and partnerships with many community organizations and volunteers, we were able to bring some holiday joy to our deserving employees.”

More than 50 volunteers spent five days assembling nearly 3,000 “boxes of thanks” to gift to staff. In addition to HCGH volunteers, local students from the Linwood School and the Firefly Club and SECU employees helped put together the boxes. Hospital leadership and managers wrote personalized thank you notes and delivered boxes to staff.

Howard County General Hospital staff were able to select from three different themed boxes. The hospital sourced items to include in the boxes from local small businesses, including fudge, popcorn, and jam from Main Street Ellicott City businesses; lotion, earrings, and candy from Columbia nonprofit The 3rd; and wellness items sourced by local nonprofit, Kits to Heart.

Diagnostic Imaging (pictured in the header image) and Special Care Unit staff (directly above) show off treats from their boxes of thanks.

“We launched The 3rd as a non-profit, co-created community to support Women of Color entrepreneurs. Community partnerships are invaluable to our success, and we were delighted to partner with our neighbors at HCGH on the box of thanks project and to participate in saluting hospital staff,” says Laura Bacon, The 3rd founder and CEO.

The HCGH Caregiver Fund was created in 2020 when COVID-19 hit with a specific goal — to raise funds to directly support staff as they responded to the pandemic. Since 2020, the fund has raised nearly $1 million and has provided tens of thousands of meals to staff, launched a food pantry within the hospital, and funded resiliency resources, including care packages, stress-relief kits, and the creation of more than 10 recharge rooms on the campus, which include massage chairs, educational materials, and wellness resources and are designed to provide caregivers with a dedicated space for respite and relaxation.

The Rotary Club of Columbia/Patuxent, Caregiver Fund donors, explain why they give: “We made a gift to support HCGH caregivers because we wanted to give back to our community’s health care heroes. It is our hope that projects like the boxes of thanks convey our immense gratitude for HCGH staff and brighten their holidays.”

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Topics: Faculty and Staff, Friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Howard County General Hospital, Strengthening Partnerships