For the media

Helping students touched by HIV and AIDS

By The Health News Team | August 20, 2021
Sharp Grossmont Hospital Backpack and School Supply Drive

Nurses, staff members and volunteers from Sharp Grossmont Hospital collected more than 125 new backpacks filled with school supplies for local students.

It's back-to-school time, and at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, that means it's time for a much-loved annual effort to help children in need, even in the midst of a surge in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients.
The hospital's eighth annual Backpack and School Supply Drive, which benefits children and teenagers whose families are impacted by HIV and AIDS, yielded more than 125 new backpacks filled with school supplies and other goodies for specific ages and grades.
Each year, Sharp Grossmont works with San Diego nonprofit Christie's Place, which supports these families with resources and family-centered social services, to identify the families and children in need of this assistance.
Last week, Sharp Grossmont nurses and volunteers, as well as staff from Christie's Place, arrived at 6:30 am to load the backpacks into a Sharp van for transport to Christie's Place. There were backpacks in an array of colors featuring animated characters, superheroes and tie-dye, all lined up and ready to help students start their year on the right foot. Once everything was loaded, Kristine Mendoza, RN, manager of performance and innovation, shared how much the staff enjoys this annual act of giving.
"It has become a summer tradition for Sharp Grossmont nurses," says Mendoza. "Many nurses use this initiative to bond with their own children by shopping for the backpack items together. The departments write notes of encouragement and place them in the children's backpacks for them to read and be inspired."
Rhea Van Brocklin, executive director of Christie's Place, says the generosity of the nurses and the Sharp Grossmont team is a big boost to these families that they so intimately know.
"For many of our families, it is a struggle to make ends meet, let alone purchase school supplies," says Van Brocklin. "These generous donations help families avoid the stress of wondering whether or not their child can start the first day of school with the necessary supplies that they need to be successful. From the bottom of our hearts, the staff at Christie's Place thanks you all."
This year, the families and schoolchildren themselves shared some of their own words with Christie's Place when they received this year's cache of supplies:

  • "We are a large family with six kids in school. We are not able to get supplies for all of the kids. With these backpacks, it makes a successful school year possible. I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. It puts a big smile on everyone's faces, which makes me so happy."

  • "I would like to say thank you from my children. They are grateful. I would also like to say how appreciative and grateful I am as a parent to be able to have access to the Sharp Grossmont nurses' program, which helps with decreasing the stress associated with trying to make sure children are prepared and ready to have a successful school year."

  • "The backpack itself is really nice. It is blue and white with flowers, and very pretty. Some of the backpacks came with water bottles and lunch pails, which the younger ones needed. They loved them."

And finally, this student was both thankful and honest about one of her academic challenges:

  • "I got a Starbucks gift card in my backpack! I get up early for school so it was a perfect way to start my day! I also got a calculator, which came in handy because I stink at math, haha."

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