WVSOM students spread generosity to local families during holiday season

The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) instills in its students the value of being actively involved in their communities. Every day, students make an effort to be engaged with future patients in the local area, and the same was especially true the beginning of December.

WVSOM students spread generosity and holiday cheer by helping nearly 50 children from 20 foster families have a better holiday season during the annual Heart of the Holidays event. Sigma Sigma Phi (SSP), a community service organization, organized the event, which helps families provide a memorable Christmas for their children through donations of clothes and toys.

“SSP, in partnership with the [Greenbrier County] Children’s Home Society, reached out to families that are taking care of foster children to provide Christmas to these children and to help relieve any burden the family may be experiencing,” said Belinda Evans, WVSOM’s director of student affairs. “I believe this is a huge impact on the families. When they attend the event here on campus, they are surrounded by loving, caring individuals who want to make the holiday a little less stressful.”

SSP President Aaron Hess said one of the benefits of attending medical school in a smaller town is the opportunity to play a more crucial role in the community. 

"When students come here for two short years they can still have a vital impact in the community and peoples' lives. As far as this event, I think that giving back — especially around the holiday season when you see these kids' faces when they get to sit on Santa's lap and open a gift — is what we strive for as physicians and our patient-centered care comes straight from that and is part of why people go into medicine," he said.  

During the event, which is now in its 18th year, children partook in activities like getting their faces painted, decorating cookies and coloring. In addition to the gift each child opened with Santa, they were given a gift to be taken home.

“Students are humbled when the wish lists have items such as personal items and not just toys,” Evans said. “Some of the students are overcome with emotions when they see an infant that is a lot smaller than it should be or when they see a child with a developmental problem. The students read about this and are tested on this but to see it in person they realize that all they are required to give these children is time.” 

WVSOM’s Pediatrics Club hosted a diaper drive in conjunction with the holiday event and offered face painting. Family Medicine Club members hosted the cookie-decorating table, and SSP members had the coloring book table.

Date Added: 
Tuesday, December 12, 2017