“Bringing a Bunch of Smiles to Westchester’s Youngest Patients’ Faces”
Hanna Palmieri, a sophomore at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, has created a toy, art supply and activity drive to collect supplies for making goody bags that she calls “Hanna Banana Bags” to be donated to children at local hospitals and health care centers in Westchester.
Hanna is making goody bags from the fun items she collects and then will give those goody bags to Northern Westchester Hospital, White Plains Hospital and Elizabeth Seton Children’s Center in Yonkers which is a residential facility for the care of medically complex and technology-dependent children.
Hanna is reaching out to local businesses to participate in her collection drive. Currently, Scattered Books in Chappaqua and All Together Now, a children’s store in Mt. Kisco will be supporting her efforts. Hanna has created donation bins that will be in these stores through the summer encouraging supporters to purchase new children’s books, small stuffed animals, art supplies, puzzles, stickers, coloring books, crafting kits or sensory toys and place them in the bin. Hanna will collect the donated items, make goody bags and then deliver them to the three participating health care facilities.
At White Plains Hospital, the goody bags will go to patients at the Family Health Center clinic which is primarily for underserved children in the area. At Northern Westchester Hospital, they are starting an activity cart to help entertain patients (both children and adults) to help take their minds off of their time in the hospital. Lastly, for Elizabeth Seton Children’s Center, sensory items that engage the children who reside there are being sought.
As Hanna says, “I want to help children be less anxious about being in a hospital or going to the doctor. I’m also planning to put a handwritten note of encouragement into each bag to make it more personal and meaningful for the child who receives it.”
Last summer Hanna was a counselor and bus monitor at Camp Nabby. When campers had to stay home because of a Covid infection or exposure, Hanna took the initiative to make each sick camper a goody bag and then drop it off at the camper’s home. As Hanna says, “To see my campers smile and jump up and down with excitement while I waved to them from a safe distance made a big impact on me.”
Hanna’s goal for this project is to bring reassurance and comfort to patients who are fearful while at the hospital. As she says, “I understand that the hospital is not an ideal place, especially for children who love to move around and play. I want to create goody bags filled with activities to keep them busy, so their minds aren’t focused on their surroundings.”