WEST ORANGE, NJ — To show their thanks for the staff members at Saint Barnabas Medical Center who have been working round the clock to care for patients with COVID-19, members of the "West Orange Moms (NJ)" community Facebook group banded together last week to collect and deliver snacks, drinks and more to the staff.
Daisy Castro, who works at the hospital, spearheaded the project alongside fellow West Orange resident Dawn Ezzard, who said she was “happy to partner with so many amazing moms in West Orange" after collecting more than $500 in just a few days.
“[I am] extremely grateful to West Orange Moms for all of their support,” said Castro. “It fills my heart to see everyone in my hometown come together for such a great cause. Thanks to everyone for their donations, thoughts and prayers.”
Prior to making any purchases, Adriana Rivera, RN, gave the group some suggestions for items donate, which included “any kind of masks, sanitizing wipes, face shields, goggles, latex-free gloves and any type of care items for the group.” Stating that “everything and anything will be appreciated,” the Saint Barnabas nurse added that more out-of-the box items like ChapStick, lotion, hair ties and “Crocks shoes that are easily wipeable" are also needed at the facility.
Additionally, Rivera mentioned that the center could use iPads or tablets to help patients connect with family members who are not able to visit.
Castro, who shared that “no one can even take a proper lunch break” at the hospital, added quick snack items to list, such as granola bars, chips, coffee, and creamers.
Another Saint Barnabas employee, Maryjane Doliente, recommended sending a note with the items, stating that the staff "reads those notes every day before beginning shifts.”
On April 9, Ezzard went to Costco and piled her cart high with boxes of Little Bites, Famous Amos cookies, Oreos, Lifesavers, granola bars, Pirate’s Booty, Goldfish, matzos, peanut butter, chips, chocolate candy, Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Capri Sun, Apple Juice, Sunny D and more. She also purchased gloves and masks at Livingston Mart.
The next day, Castro delivered the treats long with other essentials items, including lotions and ChapSticks that were donated by Nancy Silver of Empyrean Massage, some masks from realtor Viviana Pugaczewski, as well as two iPads and an iPhone.
After dropping off the items, Castro reported back to the Facebook group about the staff's response, stating that the hospital thought the donations were “very thoughtful.” She also shared some photos of the staff with the card and treats.
Rivera concluded that the staff will "never forget how you all came together for us and our patients.”
“I am amazed at my community," she said. "You are such kind human beings."
Other group members were also appreciative of the group’s efforts.
“Thank you for taking care of us,” said Michelle Bradley, a facility employee. "You are so appreciated."
Brandy McLean, whose husband is currently recovering at the hospital, was especially touched by the group’s generosity.
“I know the staff is slammed and families are hurting not being able to be there in person for their loved ones,” she said.
Ezzard, who was once a patient at the hospital, said she was doubly appreciative of the group’s efforts and felt “this was the perfect time to give a little something back.”
“Doctors nurses and various Saint Barnabas personnel are working endlessly taking care of patients that may be part of our family, friends and members of our local communities,” she said. “Doing something good makes us all feel better."
First responders from West Orange also honored the staff at Saint Barnabas this week by joining dozens of other towns for a Hero Parade held outside the hospital. CLICK HERE for the full story.