RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande’s school of nursing has just wrapped up its program, Open Your Heart to a Child.
For five years, the school has teamed up with a local school to provide items children need or want for Christmas.
Donna Mitchell, dean of the College of Professional and Technological Studies, said they are working with a middle school to make sure students have gifts for Christmas this year.
“There is a local school system with children whose parents have no money to buy Christmas gifts. So the parents will contact the guidance counselor at the school with sizes and things the children would like to have,” Mitchell said. “We teamed up with the middle school because it is easier to get gifts for the younger children, and these middle school students may have younger brothers and sisters who get something from their schools and organizations. We want to make sure these older children also receive something for Christmas.”
Each item is printed on a red paper heart and students who want to participate choose one or more hearts. They bring the gifts in during the last week of classes, and during finals week, the school takes the gifts to the school to be distributed to the children’s parents. The parents are then able to give the gifts to their children for Christmas.
Mitchell said the students really enjoy helping the children in Rio’s community.
“This really shows the compassion our nursing students have because all hearts are taken quickly,” Mitchell said. “The nursing students always drop of the gifts proudly and with a smile on their faces. I go into the class rooms and read the items on the heart. Sometimes I see tears in the students’ eyes. They are more than happy to help meet the children’s needs.”
Mitchell said the guidance counselor and parents are overwhelmed with the generosity of the nursing students. She first organized the program when she learned from a guidance counselor the school was having trouble getting gifts for some children for Christmas and asked the nursing students if they would be interested in helping.
Mitchell said she believes nursing is about the compassion these students have shown and Open Your Heart to a Child truly is a “win-win” program for everyone involved.
Jessica Patterson is a communications specialist for the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College.