Every year for the past four years, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital has hosted a back-to-school event with vendors, games and music. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Far Rockaway hospital reimagined the festival to make sure children were still provided for in the weeks before the beginning of the school year.
The hospital hosted the Community Wellness and Back to School celebration by staggering attendance, providing 500 children with school supplies, hand sanitizers, face masks and thermometers on Thursday, Sept. 3.
“While we’re still faced with these challenging times, we wanted to push forward and host this event for the benefit of the community, especially the children. Back to school is always an exciting time for kids and we wanted to continue to be a part of that excitement,” said Renee Hastick-Motes, the vice president of external affairs at St. John’s. “Healthcare is the best back-to-school supply.”
In addition to distributing essential back to school items, St. John’s provided children with health visits on site.
The money to purchase the grab-and-go school items was made possible by donations from hospital staff, community members, and companies and organizations including The Wave, CVS, Target, Cut the Red Tape for Heroes, BIC Corporation, Ridgewood Savings Bank and the St. John’s Episcopal Hospital Auxiliary, the hospital said.
“In everything that we do, we always have the community’s best interest at heart,” said Jerry Walsh, the hospital’s chief executive officer. “We were determined to continue our mission especially during these trying times. And, by seeing the smiles on the faces of families and children I believe that we were able to make a positive impact on their lives.”
For their next charitable effort, St. John’s is raising funds to purchase Chromebooks for local students. Donations in support of their effort can be made at ehs.org/schoolsupply.