How to Care with Care Bags
It is incredible how much love, support, and compassion can fit into a blue tote bag. Our care bags say it all with their name--they are bags full of all the little things that can provide care and comfort for patients and their guardians while staying in the hospital. Program Director Abby reflects that inside these bags is the “stuff [families] didn’t even know they were going to need or want,” the little things they didn’t come prepared with when they first arrived at the hospital.
For caregivers, we provide everything from a toothbrush to a roll of quarters for the vending machines. For patients, we give age-specific items of comfort. Maybe this is nail polish for a teenage girl, a toy car for a toddler boy, or a swaddle for an infant. Each bag is unique to the patient in an attempt to provide individualistic care and support that meets the needs presented by a patient.
Forrest Spence Fund started with the distribution of care bags back in 2007 as our very first program. We had a desire to show families they are not alone, and 14 years later we still have that same desire. Care bags are all about the little things. But they are also more than just a fresh toothbrush, a baby hat, or a game for a teenager. They are a way of saying “we see you and are here to support you however we can.” They are a way of ensuring that families are never alone. Back in 2017, Abby dropped a bag off for a father who was in the room with his two-year-old son at St. Jude. The father didn’t open the bag or even know what it was before the tears began to stream down his face as he hugged Abby. All he needed to know was that there was someone ready to join the fight with them. The gratitude only grew when he looked inside and saw the items he hadn’t thought to pack in his suitcase. The items that would provide entertainment for his son and allow him to be a child.
Recently, a close friend of one of our staff members, Elizabeth, gave birth to a sweet baby girl who is now staying in the NICU. Elizabeth felt helpless knowing she couldn’t visit the hospital (due to COVID-19) to support this family stuck in the middle of uncertainty. But she knew that by requesting they receive a care bag, they would know that the Fund is here for them even if it has to be from a distance.
If you are interested in caring for families through care bags, please reach out to Abby at abby [at] forrestspencefund [dot] org to inquire about donating needed items or sponsoring bags.