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The first project, a Baby Bottle Drive, began in November 2015 to coincide with National Prematurity Awareness Month. Baby Bottles were gathered, each with a label, and distributed to family and friends, asking for change. Several opportunities took place at JRHS during lunch for volunteers to go around and collect change in baby bottles. This project was very successful and raised $503.70.

The second event, a Student Card Drive, took place for the month of February. A box of supplies was placed within the QUAD and students were asked to create a motivational card for the NICU families.

The final event was held on February 19th and was “A Wonderland Tea Party.”Flyers were distributed to 1st-3rd graders at Bettie Weaver and Robious Elementary Schools for advanced ticket sales. In total, 60 plus people were in attendance. The event was held in the Closed Commons at James River which was transformed into Wonderland with bright vivid colors, signs, tissue flowers, balloons and even the Alice in Wonderland movie projected on the wall. Two special guests from the St. Francis NICU provided an amazing presentation about the importance of the NICU and the care it provides. As a thank you, each was given a handmade baby afghan to give to the NICU families. There was a final special guest who was Alice in Wonderland! As the evening progressed, raffle prizes were drawn for all the children and even some lucky adults. Children enjoyed creating wooden framed cards (which they could donate to the NICU families or take home with them). During the tea party, they were served vegetables from the White Rabbit’s Garden, mini rainbow jello cups, apple slices, pretzels, tea and lemonade. Everyone also received their own cupcake palette filled with sprinkles, teddy Grahams, marshmallows and gummy bears to decorate a colorful cupcake. The evening concluded with one last raffle for an American Girl Doll. The evening was a grand success and many compliments were received from the parents who attended. Several made additional donations for NICU Helping Hands in the baby bottles that were left around the room.

NICU Helping Hands was a lot of work but was worth every second of it. $1,150.10 was raised. The money was used to purchase preemie sleepers and onesies, books for the parents to read to baby, parent journals and activity books for siblings, as well as other items the nurses felt would be helpful for the NICU families.

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