Millions of children visit hospitals each year and many have to stay in those hospitals for months at a time.
Lake Michigan Credit Union is working to alleviate the emotional distress that is associated with hospital stays for children in West Michigan through a fundraising drive.
The credit union’s Band Together Campaign is a monthlong campaign in May designed to help children from various hospitals in Florida and 11 hospitals in Michigan, including the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Mercy Health Hospital and Metro Health Hospital, according to Alexis Rangel, Lake Michigan Credit Union’s community relations manager.
“The campaign raises funds for pediatric programs specifically,” Rangel said. “We’ve had a number of employees who share how some of this area’s (children’s) hospitals have impacted them personally and nothing is worse than having a child who is ill. It can really take a toll on the family, and we are very fortunate to have such wonderful children hospitals, especially here in West Michigan, so we are doing anything we can to help to support our members and employees who have children and are in need of care.”
The Band Together Campaign started in 2015, and since then, Rangel said the campaign has raised $85,000 for area hospitals. This year’s goal is to raise $36,000. The funds are donated by members of the credit union, of which Rangel said there are over 400,000, but she also said employees and community residents have donated to the effort.
The funds that are raised by different branches assist hospitals that are within that specific community. While the hospitals dictate which of their children's programs will be funded, many of the programs include pediatric oncology, neonatal and child life services.
Last year, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital received $10,000 from the Band Together Campaign. Bradley Kaufmann, director of annual giving at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said some of the donations were used to support the school-based program in its child life department.
“The program is for children who may be in the hospital for a week or may be in the hospital for two months,” Kaufmann said. “They have a teacher who liaisons with the child’s school to keep them on track, to keep them up-to-date with their school work because, obviously, if a child is being treated and missing a lot of school, they can fall really far behind and it just makes it more difficult later on. So, that is something that is totally funded through philanthropy.”
Kaufmann said some of the children suffer from conditions such as trauma, cancer, congenital heart disease and other illnesses.
In June, when the campaign ends, Rangel said some of the employees personally deliver the checks to each hospital.
“We get to see firsthand what that donation is going to,” Rangel said. “We can see the families that we are supporting. It is one thing to raise funds for something but it’s another thing to see who will be benefiting from the cause.”