It was in 2017 when Phi Pi Chapter was inspired to come up with a creative way to give back to their local community, after hearing past Sigma President Beth Baldwin Tigges’ Call to Action, “Connect, Collaborate, and Catalyze.” The goal for their service project was to help connect their chapter to those in need. Because Phi Pi Chapter is affiliated with Chamberlain University, chapter members live across the United States, as well as outside of the US, which meant that they needed a service project that all members could get involved in no matter where they were based. All these factors lead to the birth of their partnership with Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE).
SAFE is a tax-exempt 501c3 organization and its mission is to provide comfort to children in traumatic or emergency situations through donations of stuffed animals, blankets, books, children’s clothing, and baby items. Members gather locally with supplies to make stuffed animals that will eventually offer comfort and stress relief to children in emergency situations. The stuffed animals and other donations are then given to local shelters, police and fire stations, children’s hospitals, and other agencies that support children in crisis.
“Our chapter has held SAFE events on both large and small scales with great success. Our members find it fun and gratifying to be involved in a project that allows them to connect with Phi Pi Chapter members in giving back to the community together,” said LeAnne Prenovost, DNP, MBA, CNE, RN, president of Phi Pi Chapter. Those involved in the SAFE project continue to gather an extensive list of rewarding moments from the work that the chapter does in partnership with the first responders and supporters of children in crisis in their community.
The SAFE project has also been a featured activity at three of Sigma’s events: Creating Healthy Work Environments in 2017, Leadership Connection in 2017, and the 45th Biennial Convention in 2019. “When we delivered the stuffed animals to the New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter, we were able to meet some of the mothers and children,” LeAnne said. “Most of these mothers had fled from domestic violence situations and were in this shelter. They were so touched that someone cared enough to do something for their children. The kids circled around as we dropped off the animals and their eyes were sparkling, and they were so excited. It melted our hearts to see our good deeds in action.”
For Sigma members in other chapters looking to get involved, LeAnne offers the following tips:
- Visit the SAFE website for assistance on how to find an organization that accepts donations.
- Locate a supplier to provide the animal “skins,” the stuffing, and shipping options to your event’s location. (SAFE can help chapters locate suppliers that meet safety guidelines.)
- Discuss an agreement with the receiving organization prior to your scheduled service event. Chapters will want to determine the specific criteria for donations and how to deliver.
- Be sure to have fun at the service event, enjoy the company of fellow chapter members, and take plenty of photos to share with us at @SigmaNursing!