Family Gives Back by Donating Gift Baskets to Families of ICU Patients

By: Caroline Barnes

IMG_7350Pam Campano knows what it is like to be in the hospital with a loved one over the holidays.

For years while her father awaited a heart transplant, Campano spent long hours, days and nights in the intensive care unit (ICU) at UPMC Presbyterian by his side. However, during the holiday season, she found it particularly hard, especially with four young children at home to care for.

“It is the time of year that is supposed to be full of joy, celebration, and to be surrounded by all your family members,” Campano said. “But when you are caring for a sick loved one and spending your time in the hospital, rather than participating in the holiday traditions, it is extremely difficult.  Christmas cards need to be mailed, gifts need to be bought and holiday decorating needs to be completed.”

Because of her own experience, Campano is particularly concerned for the families with loved ones in the hospital at this time of year. This Sunday, she will be delivering 25 gift baskets to UPMC Presbyterian with the hope that they provide family members of patients some positive support as they spend their holidays in the hospital.

With the help of her twin 16-year-old daughters, Angelina and Angelica, Campano thought a good way to give back would be to make and personally deliver holiday gift baskets for the families of ICU patients.  She posted her  idea on Facebook and received huge support from family, friends  and other community members in Jefferson Hills. Over the past few months, through active fundraising and accepting donations, she and her family were able to accumulate enough contributions and materials to fill the baskets.

“When Pam reached out to me telling me about this idea and ask if it would be OK, I said ‘OK? Are you kidding me, it would be amazing!’” said Patti Lane, director of volunteer and community services at UPMC Presbyterian-Shadyside. “I thought it was such a genius idea and really compassionate. Our staff are coming in on a day off to help pass out the baskets and they’re happy to do it.”

IMG_7344The baskets include toiletry items, restaurant gift cards, snacks, candy and games for kids. Campano knows  that the ability to brush your teeth or play a simple crossword puzzle seems small but means the world to families at the hospital.

UPMC’s Lane said often family accompany a patient from out-of-town in an emergency and are lucky if they have their phone, let alone toiletries. And restaurant gift cards are always welcome after several days of even the best hospital cafeteria food.

“I hope when these families receive these baskets that they will receive a little comfort during these horrible and unfortunate times,” Campano said.