What started as a simple community service project for 13-year-old student Cassidy Schirmer ended in a much-needed surprise for a Baltimore County hospital.
Schirmer and her school's chapter of the National Junior Honor Society needed to do something to fulfill the group’s community service requirement. Schirmer and her mom took to their Facebook pages to solicit suggestions, and a family friend suggested donating baby supplies to Greater Baltimore Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“I love children, especially babies," Schirmer said. "I heard that the NICU could use some playpens and mobiles to help the babies, and I thought that would be great."
She said she and her parents decided to throw a virtual baby shower, and got to work soliciting donations from everyone they know. They raised close to $300 and bought mobiles, playpens and handmade hats for the hospital.
Schirmer said the cause was especially meaningful to her. When she was four months old, she stopped breathing and was admitted to an area hospital.
“My parents told me how all the patients had to share the toys and chairs in the hospital," she said. "There was never enough stuff to go around, so hopefully the playpens will help the babies in the NICU.”
Schirmer presented the gifts in the hospital’s NICU Friday. New parents Anna and Dave Binko, along with their daughter Vanessa Rose, were on hand to accept them on behalf of the hospital.
Born June 30, Vanessa has been having feeding and respiratory problems. She and her family have been staying in the NICU until the newborn can increase her weight.
Dave Binko said they were told they’d be receiving the items just a few hours before Schirmer arrived. He said he and his wife were happily surprised.
“I can’t believe it," Binko said. "It’s great that people do this.”
The Binkos weren't the only ones surprised by the gifts—Vanessa’s doctor said it was a surprise for most of the hospital staff, too.
“We had no idea this was going to be done,” neonatalogist Dr. Mana Pane said. She added that older babies still confined to the hospital need the stimulation the mobiles offer. She said the gifts Schirmer purchased were extras that most hospitals wouldn’t think to provide.
“It’s very inspiring that someone so young would do something so monumental,” she said.