NFA Volunteers Show Love to Hospital Patients on Valentine’s Day


Jack Holdsworth and Julia Florence

Jack Holdsworth, Staff Writer

A hospital stay is perhaps one of the worst ways to spend Valentine’s Day, and a hospital meal is not typically what people have in mind for their Valentine’s Day dinner. Hoping to lift the spirits of patients spending Valentine’s Day at Backus Hospital, student volunteers from NFA’s Project Outreach made tray favors to place on patients’ meal trays.

“We’ve been doing this project for many, many years, even when I was a student here…. the hope is that it’ll just add a little bit of sunshine to somebody’s day- who is in the hospital, not feeling well, and not doing well, and just let them know that people are thinking of them,” explained Project Outreach coordinator Jodi Savage.

The tray favors that the students made took the shape of small paper penguins, made entirely out of heart cut-outs. On the back of the penguins there were small handwritten messages, saying things such as “Thinking of You,” “Get Well Soon,” and “Have a Great Day.” NFA’s Project Outreach has a long tradition of these acts of kindness.

“It was something that was started many years ago…Project Outreach has been in existence about 46 years, and I know that we’ve been doing it at least 20 years….It’s different agencies, different groups, that get together and make the tray favors for the different holidays. We’ve been asked to do Valentine’s Day this year, as well as Easter,” Savage said.

Savage explained that their act of goodwill was inspired by love, the essence of Valentine’s Day.

“I mean, Valentine’s Day is all about love-as you know. And, it’s really about showing kindness to others. And so I think while there’s romantic love, there’s also the love of your friends, there’s a love of being kind to others. I think it’s pretty fitting that we’re able to do this on Valentine’s Day,” said Savage.

Student volunteers hoped that their small gesture would have a big impact on the gift recipients.

“I just hope that it will brighten their day to get something like that, and to remind them that this Valentine’s Day, someone cares and, [it] just makes them happy,” said lower Alexia Ramos-Labonte.

“I think that spreading kindness and love is really important in our community, so to get to do that, with something as simple as just making favors, I think it is really important. Especially over the summer.  Sometimes I volunteer like this, and it is really easy and fun,” Ramos-Labonte added.

“It makes me feel good, helping other people, and seeing other people be happy,” echoed lower Haley Vitko.

Savage believes that by volunteering at this event, students had the chance to become a part of something greater.

“This is an opportunity for students to show that there is goodness in the world. I think that having volunteer opportunities is really important for students, to give them a sense of community.”

Both the patients at Backus Hospital, who benefited from a caring gesture this Valentine’s Day, and the student volunteers found that a simple act had the power to make a big difference in both their lives, and in the lives of community members.