National Junior Honor Society students show cancer patients they care

Juniata County School District  |  Posted on

East Juniata NJHS students after delivering gift baskets to cancer patients

On Friday, February 21, 2020, eighteen members of East Juniata’s National Junior Honor Society visited UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg with care packages for cancer patients. Students filled the back of a school bus with sixty-four baskets, brimming with socks, puzzles, adult coloring books, journals, hand sanitizer, stress balls, playing cards, fleece blankets, and peppermint candies. Upon arrival at the hospital, students delivered baskets to both the inpatient and outpatient cancer wings.

While Jana Snyder and Amanda Lightner, co-advisors for NJHS, supervised the service project, it was entirely student-driven. Shirley Symmerman and Andrea Maneval, the respective ninth grade president and vice-president for NJHS presented the idea at the club’s December meeting. From there, NJHS members developed a list of items to include in the gift baskets. “I just Googled things that would help patients through cancer treatment,” Symmerman explained.

During the first weeks of February, East Juniata High School and East Juniata Elementary School students collected more than 900 items. Volunteers met at a local church on Saturday, February 15th, to wrap and decorate the baskets. Their efforts were rewarded with the smiles of doctors, nurses, administrators, and patients on delivery day.

Students received a tour of the inpatient and outpatient areas of the cancer center at UPMC Pinnacle. Nurses leading the tour introduced students to some of the patients, allowing them to ask questions and hear personal, moving stories about life with cancer. For one woman, it was her first treatment visit–her very first hour of chemotherapy–and she was greeted by teenagers and a basket of goodies. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she said to her visitors, “but you brought me everything I might have needed.”