After she arrived at WMed in 2018, Mariam Ischander, MD, began leading what has become an annual tradition at WMed Health’s Pediatrics and Pediatric Subspecialties practices at the medical school’s Oakland Drive Campus.
Each year, as the holiday season approaches, donors supply new books, toys, and other items for patients who visit during the month of December. Each child is allowed to pick a Christmas gift after an appointment with a provider, and they also take home a gift for each sibling.
“We want to bring a smile to every child for Christmas and it’s really priceless,” Dr. Ischander said. “It brings some cheer and beautiful moments for the season.”
The holiday toys, books, and other items are donated by medical school faculty, staff, and others from the Kalamazoo community. This year, hundreds of items were donated, including dolls, cars, games, stuffed animals, books, hair accessories, lotions, blankets, Christmas socks, hats, scarves, and coloring books, Dr. Ischander said.
The gifts are grouped in age ranges from newborn to 21 and patients have the chance to pick something special throughout December. This year, Dr. Ischander said WMed residents helped place the toys and other items in Christmas gift bags. The gifts were then made available for patients in the Pediatrics, Pediatric Subpspecialties, Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, and Medicine-Pediatrics practices at the Oakland Drive Campus.
In addition to the annual toy drive, physicians from the Pediatrics residency program at WMed also adopt a family for the Christmas season to help spread holiday cheer and have a positive impact in the community.
A WMed Health social worker helps identify a family in need and the residents collect monetary donations, as well as gifts including clothing, toys, electronics, and blankets.
Lubaina Ehsan, MD, a chief resident in the Pediatrics residency program, said she and her co-chief Nourhan Shafeey, MD, spoke to the family and compiled a wish list of gift ideas. They, along with wither residents, administrators, and faculty, purchased more than 20 gifts this year and collected $400 in monetary donations. The gift ideas come from a wish list compiled by the family and Dr. Ehsan said extra money left over from the monetary donations was used to purchase gift cards for the family.
Dr. Shafeey and other residents will delivered the gifts to the family prior to the Christmas holiday.
“Within Kalamazoo, there are a lot of opportunities for community engagement and this is one of the ways were able to do that,” Dr. Ehsan said. “Our program is teaching us to be doctors but it’s also creating that sense of empathy that goes beyond just being a pediatrician in the clinic. It’s teaching us the human side of medicine.”