Spreading Thanksgiving Cheer with a Thanksgiving Meal Spread

Between prepping, cooking, cleaning and entertaining, Thanksgiving sometimes turns into a high-stress holiday rather than a time for giving thanks. This time of year is already stressful for families at University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH), who spend the holidays at the hospital instead of at home.

Members from the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville, Md. donated a Thanksgiving meal to all UMCH patients, families and staff members, to take one thing off of their plates for the holidays.

Amanda Ackermann, a first year Child Life graduate student at Towson University and a Child Life Scholar at UMCH, coordinated the donation. As part of her Child Life Scholar field study, she spends 20 hours a week providing and supervising developmentally appropriate activities for patients. She also organizes special events, implements new programming and manages donations.

Amanda (third from right) and the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club team

Amanda is also a banquet server at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, and she thought it was only natural to bring her two jobs together.

“I brought up the idea of giving back to the UMCH families, and the general manager, Dereck, was instantly on board to help,” Amanda said.

The initial idea, to donate homemade pies, grew into a full Thanksgiving meal. After putting in months of planning for the meal, the team decided they wanted to do even more! The entire management staff donated toys for all ages, which were distributed to children with their meals.

Many thanks to Chesapeake Bay Beach Club for making this Thanksgiving extra special!!


Sofia’s Lemonade Stand

Sofia Joslin, a seven year Patterson Park native and daughter of child life manager Shannon Joslin, has raised an incredible amount of money to support the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Sofia decided that the day her neighborhood was having a large scale yard sale day (3 blocks long), she would use the opportunity to help give back to kids who may not be as fortunate as herself.

Sofia (left) and her friend pose with their lemonade stand they used for their donation to UMCH

From there, Sofia gathered up her friends and they began to play a part in the process as well. Sofia and her friends sold all of their lemonade and raised $250 which made all the effort she put in a positive experience.

After the fundraiser’s huge success, Sofia was determined to donate toys  of all different diversities to the Children’s Hospital.

She sought help from her parents who were quick to remind her there are all types of kids at the hospital: she needed to find toys that both girls and boys of different ages would like. The family headed to Target to maximize the most they could out of $250.

Staying true to her word Sofia went shopping and stuck to the basics. She set out to get dolls, craft kits amongst other items for girls, and Legos and cars for the boys.

After Sofia and her family purchased the toys, they were collected in UMCH’s red wagon and transported to the hospital. Sofia got to see her work go full circle when her parents took her down to the hospital to deliver the toys in person.

Following such a positive turn out, Sofia’s neighborhood wants to ensure that this is not a one-time donation. Inspired by the children’s involvement and by UMCH’s great care, adults in the neighborhood would like to make this a tradition and make even bigger donations going forward.

Many thanks to Sofia, her family and neighbors! Your continued support of the Children’s Hospital ensures we have the resources available to make every patient’s stay comfortable and fun.


Learn more about the Child Life Program and meet the team.  http://www.umm.edu/childlife

Interested in giving to the Children’s Hospital? Here’s how you can help. http://www.umm.edu/programs/childrens/services/child-life/how-to-help



UM Children’s Hospital Patient Gives Back in a Big Way

Michelle Kaminaris, a kindergarten teacher at Hampstead Hill Academy in East Baltimore, has seen kids miss school for all kinds of reasons. Like most of us, she never expected her own child to miss school due to a serious illness. But when her daughter Eva (an eighth grader at Hampstead Hill Academy) started showing flu-like symptoms, a trip to the doctor confirmed that Eva would be missing school due to pneumonia.

From there, Eva had more tests and doctors found a tumor on her ovaries. The tumor was removed after an emergency surgery, but she still had to spend time recovering at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH). While she endured a slew of poking and prodding and scary medical diagnoses, it was the Child Life team and other skilled nurses at UMCH who made her hospital stay a positive experience.

Group Photo

Eva (fourth from left) and Hampstead Hill Academy’s Kiwanis Builders Club pose with their donation to UMCH

“We had unbelievably phenomenal care. I never had to leave my daughter,” Michelle said. “One of the nurses even gave up his lunch hour to take Eva to play and walk around.”

Post-discharge and feeling better, Eva was determined to give back to the place that took such great care of her. She started looking online for ways to help and found UMCH’s toy wish list.

She sought help from her school’s Kiwanis Builders Club, and recruited some of her friends and classmates to help. The club, seven members strong, started planning fundraisers, bake sales, art supply and Band-Aid drives, and a paint night.

Shannon Joslin Builders Club

Shannon Joslin, Child Life Manager, describes the Child Life Program to the Hampstead Hill Academy Kiwanis Builders Club

The students stayed after school one day to stretch the canvases for the paint night by hand and helped cook food for the event. Thirty-five families came out after school to support the club and raise money for the cause.

The club went shopping for items on the UMCH wish list with the money from the fundraisers. They picked out high-demand items like DVDs, video games, building block sets and card games, all which they personally delivered to the hospital.

As Eva heads to high school, she wants to ensure that this is not a one-time donation. Even if she can’t start the club at her new high school, she plans to keep in touch and continue giving back to UMCH. Michelle’s youngest child, inspired by Eva’s involvement and by UMCH’s great care, plans continue the family tradition and join the Hampstead Hill Builders Club next year.

Many thanks to the Hampstead Hill Academy’s Kiwanis Builders Club! Your continued support of the Children’s Hospital ensures we have the resources available to make every patient’s stay comfortable and fun.

Learn more about the Child Life Program and meet the team.

Interested in giving to the Children’s Hospital? Here’s how you can help.


Blood Drive Experience

By: Michelle Logan, Editorial Intern

May 29, marked the first day of my communications internship at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I had come home from my junior year at college with a resume crammed with journalistic experience and I felt ready to handle anything. Before my first day, I familiarized myself with the hospital’s target audience, I studied its social media pages and websites, I practiced numerous interviews and writing styles, I lined my closet with business casual attire — I felt fully equipped to talk the UMMC talk and walk the UMMC walk. However, nothing could have prepared me for an email the night before from my internship mentor: “You’ll be helping at the Red Cross blood drive in Gudelsky lobby of the main hospital, see you there!”

Blood Drive 072015

The first thought in my muddled head was “I didn’t sign up for this.” I had heard about blood drives at local events and grabbed my arm in illusory pain — I had been terrified of needles since the first time I received a booster shot and furiously threw my Cinderella Band-Aid at the doctor. The thought of simply being close to needles made my fingers quiver as I typed back, “Sounds great!” to my mentor and pressed “send.”

The morning of May 29 arrived, and I took deep breaths as I sat at a registration table to greet those giving blood. I faced away from the blood drive area, my thoughts calming down, and instead enjoyed conversing with those signing up. One UMMC doctor informed me it was his tenth time donating, while another explained how her husband and daughter donated with her every time. The stories I heard were enlightening, but none as impactful as a community member who walked in to see what the big event was.

“What’s this?” he asked as he peered down at a flyer that read, “Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.”  He looked back up at me and exclaimed, “That’s a lot of people! Let’s give this a shot.” Spur of the moment, this man decided to donate blood. As he wrote his name on the sign-up sheet, I turned around and really took in my surroundings. I suddenly remembered my mom telling me how much blood she had lost while in the delivery room with my twin sister and me, and the needles behind me started to look less scary. In fact, they started to look like an opportunity to help a lot of people. I decided to give it a shot.

The weeks went by, but on June 16, I prepared for my internship a bit differently. I double-checked the appointment that I scheduled online. I ate a large iron-rich breakfast, and gulped down as much water as I could. I put on a comfortable shirt, packed my I.D., yelled at the butterflies in my stomach to calm down, and shaped my shuddering body into a confident stance as I marched out the door.

I once again walked into the Gudelsky lobby and to the registration table, but this time, I was on the other side. This time, I confirmed my online appointment and received a sticker, a number, and facts about donating. I then sat down with my sixth water bottle of the day in hand. When “73” was called, I looked at my number card and twitched. This was it.

Michelle L blood driveA woman in blue scrubs led me into a small cubicle, where I answered questions about my health, travel history and medications.  Then I had my temperature, blood pressure and pulse taken. I felt a sharp pinch and a squeeze as the woman pricked my finger to test my iron level, but she placed a bandage on it and I managed to not throw it this time.

Finally, the moment I agonized over was here, but it was far easier than I imagined. Another woman beckoned me out of my cubicle with a “hey girl, you ready?” and my shoulders began to relax as I followed a humming doctor to a reclining chair. As she brought me more water and took my arm, I looked around. To the right of me another doctor was telling a man about a video she watched online. Across from me a woman was squeezing her hand softly while reading a book. Though my doctor was preparing for the donation, she was telling me stories and asking questions. She kept me distracted, and I felt my stress slip away.

I only had two seconds of pain and eight minutes of arm pumping, but then it was over, and I was going to help up to three people. As the doctor placed a bandage around my arm I realized that I am always going to be afraid of needles. But if it means giving someone the gift of life, I am willing to tackle my fears.


The next UMMC blood drive is July 28-29 from 8 am-8 pm, and July 30 from 7 am-7 pm, in the Gudelsky lobby of the main hospital. Schedule your appointment today for July 28, July 29 or July 30.

If you have problems making an appointment, please email Katey Leiter at kleiter@umm.edu with the time you want to give, and she will make the appointment for you.

All donors receive a $5 gift card good at any UMMC eatery, and will be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to an upcoming Orioles game.