During the month of December 2023, the Nursing Department successfully spread some holiday cheer as members of the newly formed Nursing Student Alliance (NSA) and faculty members organized a toy drive, which resulted in two boxes of toys being donated to Where to Turn, a not-for-profit organization on Staten Island. Where to Turn’s purpose is to provide crisis relief services for victims of any kind of tragedy by aiding them in obtaining the help they need during the recovery process, and they also serve as a voice for victims to assure that the proper officials are aware of victims’ needs and concerns.

Jennifer Macchiarola, AAS Program Coordinator, Doctoral Lecturer, and Faculty Nursing Labs Manager in the Nursing Department, explained that Where to Turn’s founder, Dennis McKeon, noted that “the toys would be distributed to Project Hospitality Homeless Shelter for their holiday party. Isha Kumar, President of the club; Brandon Carrozza, Vice President; and Ana Carolina Francia, Treasurer made beautiful holiday boxes and spearheaded the collection.”

Looking at the beginning of the Student Nursing Alliance, Macchiarola said that Kumar, a second-semester Nursing student, expressed a desire, last fall, to form a nursing club, seeking to help fellow Nursing students “transition into the rigorous Nursing program, mentor academically, and serve the community of Staten Island.” After Kumar visited a number of Nursing classes to present her idea, 108 students voiced an interest in joining the club.

One of their first initiatives was to collaborate with CSI Athletics to collect food for a Thanksgiving drive for the Teddy Atlas Foundation, so this latest drive continued the NSA’s efforts to help others, which, in Macchiarola’s opinion, is one of the core principles of the nursing profession. “As empathetic nurses, part of our job is giving back to the community in need. With this give-back, we were able to meet Mr. McKeon and donate to this extraordinary organization. It gives us great satisfaction to put smiles on the children’s faces during this holiday season.” 

By Terry Mares