Donations help grieving kids

Vancouver | January 12, 2018
Hope comes in the form of cuddly stuffed animals

The supply closet was getting bare, but the need was great.

With the holidays approaching, Colleen Storey, the supervisor of Hope Bereavement Services at PeaceHealth in Vancouver, Washington put out an urgent call for help.

A miracle was needed if the Stepping Stones team was going to have the tools it needed to give comfort and hope to the 36 children enrolled in the grief program.

Stepping Stones specializes in helping children (ages 4–19 years) who have had a loved one die due to long-term illness, accident or other causes. It’s one of the programs at the bereavement center dedicated to helping families heal through difficult times of loss.

“Holidays can be especially difficult for children when someone close to them has died so we like to provide each child a Christmas ornament and a stuffed animal,” said Storey.

Participants in Stepping Stones share their stories and express their thoughts and feelings through art, writing and other guided activities. They often find comfort in having something — like a stuffed animal — to hold as they find ways to deal with their grief.

No sooner did Storey’s call go out, than a menagerie of stuffed bears, fluffy dogs and other plush animals showed up at the bereavement center, courtesy of Vicky Rhodes and the PeaceHealth inpatient pharmacy staff and other coworkers.

It made all of the difference. PeaceHealth pays staff wages, but supplies for the grief programs are bought with donations from individuals, teams and the Friends of Hospice. Such generosity makes it possible for the bereavement center to provide gift cards and other extras to families who are reeling not only from grief, but also from the financial burden of losing their main breadwinner.

“You know, I cry a lot in my job, but most of the time it’s due to the beautiful, heartwarming and touching support our families receive from our volunteers and community,” she said. “It’s individuals like Vicky and the pharmacy team that make this such a healthy and supportive environment in which to live.”