11/26/06 — Cherry asks for volunteers for holidays

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Cherry asks for volunteers for holidays

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 26, 2006 2:00 AM

Christmas is typically a special time to be remembered, and for the patients at Cherry Hospital, it is no different. Without the help of interested individuals and groups, many of the 300 patients there might be forgotten.

But the need for support and volunteer efforts goes beyond the holidays, says the special services department.

"We would love to have something every month," said Penny Withrow, volunteer services coordinator.

"We say Christmas, but we would love to have Valentine's parties, Easter parties, other seasonal parties as well," said Tanya Rollins, special services director.

With five wards to choose from -- geriatric, adult acute admissions, psychiatric rehab and adolescents -- there are many opportunities for volunteers to serve.

Starting later this month, the Cherry Foundation is sponsoring a Christmas concert for patients and staff. The public is also invited to attend "A Very Cherry Christmas" Nov. 28.

The 90-minute show will be held in the Cherry Hospital auditorium and will feature an array of talent from both the staff and the community.

"Anybody that would like to do a very short song, dance, play an instrument" is invited to be part of the Christmas variety show, Mrs. Rollins said.

On Friday, Dec. 1, will be the annual Cherry Christmas parade, beginning at 3:45 p.m. The public is invited to attend or participate.

"We need entries from the community -- ride in an old car, on horses or march," Mrs. Withrow said. "We welcome all area bands, floats, individuals and groups."

Deadline for entries is Monday.

"Christmas at Cherry" is another way to share the holiday season with others, by collecting gifts and monetary donations to ensure that every patient gets a package on Christmas Day.

"They're dependent on that," Mrs. Rollins said. "A lot of our patients are indigent, so we depend on friends in the community."

Watches and Walkman radios are always popular, as are phone cards, men's and women's tennis shoes, coats and jackets and toiletry items --hairbrushes, toothpaste, powder, deodorant, lotion.

Items should be new, unwrapped and received by the second week in December, Mrs. Rollins said. Other gift ideas include wallets, pajamas, board games, pocketbooks, underwear, playing cards, gloves, socks, crossword puzzles and hats.

Gifts may be brought to the special services office, but if a church or organization has a large donation, Mrs. Rollins said arrangements can be made to have items picked up.

Other ways to support the efforts at Cherry include sponsoring a Christmas party for patients. Whether in the form of providing refreshments, singing, doing an activity or donating goody bags, evening and weekend events are always popular during the holiday season, Mrs. Rollins said.

Cherry Hospital also has a great arena for those who want to share their talents, Mrs. Withrow said.

"If there are musical groups, theatrical groups who would like to provide an evening of entertainment hospitalwide, you have a 500-seat auditorium to perform in," she said.

The hospital also has its own school and weekly church services where volunteers and support are welcome.

"At River Bend School, we always need school supplies -- bound composition books (no metal binders), bookbags, pencils, rulers, markers, notebook paper," Mrs. Rollins said.

And on Sunday mornings, the hospital chaplain would welcome help with worship services or singing, she added.

For more information on ways to support Cherry Hospital, call 731-3417.