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Employees, Patients Spread Holiday Cheer to Community

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu Donates Blankets for Kūpuna

Amid a year filled with hardships, the staff and patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu made it their collective mission to share aloha with others in their island community.

“We are blessed that we are healthy and have remained healthy during this entire year of COVID-19. We wanted to do something special for others who may not be as fortunate,” said Paulette Nakamatsu, BSN, RN, inpatient services manager at the Honolulu Shriners Hospital.

So was born the “Wrapped with Aloha” project.

The goal, according to Nakamatsu, was to donate blankets to kūpuna (an affectionate term for an elder or grandparent) at the nearby Lē‘ahi Hospital nursing home.

“Receiving a blanket is like getting a big, warm bear-hug,” Nakamatsu explained. “Because nursing home residents cannot be with their families this year, we wanted to give a part of ourselves to the k?puna and let them know they’re not forgotten.”

Beginning in November, staff members brought in newly-purchased fleece blankets to a drop-off location in the hospital’s main lobby. They also could choose to make a blanket during a “blanket bee” held after work.

“We thought that making the blankets together would be a fun bonding opportunity for staff,” Nakamatsu said.

“One of our surgeons came down and put his operating skills to good use!” said recreation therapy manager Helene Freni-Rogers, CTRS, who assisted Nakamatsu with the project.

“He cut and tied as if he was in surgery,” Nakamatsu added with a laugh. “He did awesome!”

Freni-Rogers said their original goal had been to gather 20 blankets; however, the group effort produced more than double that amount, with exactly 50 blankets either donated or made for the residents of Lē‘ahi Hospital.

“We were surprised when we announced the total! We appreciate our staff for their generosity. This year has brought out a spirit of giving in so many,” Nakamatsu said.

Once all blankets had been bundled, inpatients who are part of the hospital’s Kōkua Club (kōkua meaning "to help") decorated the packages with a bow, leaf and card for the recipients.

“We want to teach our patients that they too can give back,” Freni-Rogers said. “We do different things throughout the year, and this was just one example of that.”

A small group from Shriners Hospitals for Children — Honolulu hand-delivered the blankets and heartfelt messages to Lē‘ahi Hospital the week before Thanksgiving.

“It means the world to the residents and staff to be remembered and thought of as special,” said Joan Watanabe, a volunteer service coordinator with Lē‘ahi Hospital. “We appreciate when people in the community think of our residents, especially in this time of pandemic when we are all quite isolated.”

“It is so important that the kapuna know that we are thankful they are here,” Nakamatsu said.

Group and dog with donations

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