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Operation Heart, a patient care student group of the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), sponsored a donation drive for the Martin Luther King Day of Service on Jan. 19, 2015. The donation drive supported We Feed the Homeless Philly, a local grassroots group that provides food to homeless individuals and the food insecure in the Philadelphia region.
The idea to have a service event for We Feed the Homeless Philly (WFHP) first came about after attending an elective course in the Role of Pharmacists in Cardiovascular Prevention in the spring of 2014. Craig Stroman, the founder of the non-profit, was the invited speaker and shared his story of founding the organization. Mr. Stroman shared his perspective and experiences with the class in order to increase sensitivity and awareness of the needs of others in the community. WFHP helps many homeless people by simply feeding them a good meal.
During the fall semester Operation Heart members thought about an idea for an MLK service event. In order to be helpful to the population that WFHP serves, the group decided to collect personal care items so that we can help them meet their basic needs. Marina Abdelsayed PharmD’16, Operation Heart patient group leader, Kirsten Demarco, MLK service event leader, and Grace Earl P’86, PharmD’92, APhA Operation Heart faculty advisor, together called Jodi Austin from WFHP to identify their needs. Jodi shared her list of items to distribute to the homeless. We came up with a rather extensive list of hats, gloves, scarves, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, tissues, and sanitizing wipes. With help from the Terry Pak PharmD’16, APhA president, and Princy John PharmD’17, communications vice president, we advertised throughout the school. Deanna Bauerlein PharmD’16, APhA patient care coordinator, and volunteers were key in helping to set up the “last minute” bake sale to raise funds to buy extra donations.
On Martin Luther King Day, there were many volunteers who offered to help make the care packages. Donations came from students and faculty and were collected throughout the last few weeks of the winter semester. CVS/Pharmacy donated 50 drawstring bags. We started off making the care packages with a minimum amount of donations in each to make sure that we could help as many people as possible. As the day went on, however, we collected more and more donations, especially from University of the Sciences Student Life. By the end of the day we had made more than the 50 care packages and each package contained one of each requested personal care item plus either a hat, scarf, pair of gloves, or socks. We filled four large boxes to transport the donations.
Craig Stroman came to pick up the donations, and was ecstatic to see all of the donations that we raised and was happy that he had made a difference with his visit to our class in the spring semester. As a health care professional, it is important to involve ourselves in the community we will be serving and this was a very good experience in learning how to set up and execute a project.
A huge thank you goes out to Dr. Grace Earl, Marina Abdelsayed, Terry Pak, and Deanna Baeurlein for being so patient in helping to get this donation drive set up. Thank you as well to our student and faculty donors, CVS/Pharmacy, USciences Student Health, and ColorSource Printing (of Pennsauken, NJ) for supporting our cause. None of this would be possible as well without our volunteers who were so very helpful on Martin Luther King Day. Thank you to Peter Pham PharmD’18, Joellen Friedman PharmD’16, Avani Yenamandra PharmD’17, Christina Ly PharmD’17, Darshan Patel PharmD’20, Chelsea Cunningham PharmD’16, and Eric Simpson PharmD’20.