Hospital's pumpkin donation brings joy to pediatric patients

Posted: 10:41 PM, Oct 18, 2017
Updated: 2017-10-19 03:41:30Z

On the east side of Green Bay, it's harvest time at a very special pumpkin patch. Daniel Rocheleau takes great care picking and washing the pumpkins for a heartwarming delivery.

"When you see the kids and you see their faces, and you think about the work you put into it, it can be very emotional and a great feeling," he said.

It's a labor of love for Rocheleau who is the leader of the HSHS-Eastern Wisconsin Division Green Team which works to make sure its hospitals are environmentally-friendly. For the past four years, they've been growing pumpkins on hospital-owned property and donating them to pediatric patients receiving treatment at HSHS St. Vincent Children's Hospital. The gift brings great joy to 12-year-old Hanna Scherer who is in the hospital battling complications from diabetes.

"There's days I wish I could just take it away, so she could be a normal kid," said her mother, Tara Gerloff.

That's the goal of the free Child Life¬†program at the hospital. They work to make sure kids have a positive and comfortable experience during their stay. 

"We try to bring home into the health care setting, so home into the hospital, whether it's bringing in toys, bringing in crafts but really to teach the kids that we're here to help them," said Child Life Specialist Ashley Thompson.

Thompson and her team are trained to provide emotional and educational support to patients and their families. She says activities, such as painting and decorating the donated pumpkins, are a healthy distraction from the kids' illnesses and treatments.

"It's something so special during the holidays, because they're not missing out."

Thompson appreciates the team effort of the entire hospital staff.

"Whether it's housekeeping, whether it's down in the cafeteria, everyone works together, so it was really great to see the Green Team do something for our kids."

Rocheleau said he's happy to help patients, like Hanna, realize that Halloween is scary and not the hospital.

"If we can bring a little happiness to them and their lives and their stay at the hospital, that's what we try to do."