Buy & Give: Tending to Hearts and Minds with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

Buy & Give: Tending to Hearts and Minds with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

The trucks come each year to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. Multiple U-Haul trucks arrive at the hospital, and each one is bursting at the seams but not with medical supplies – these trucks are loaded to the brim with Play-Doh. 

As a young girl who was treated for cancer while receiving Child Life Services at Monroe Carell, Play-Doh was her favorite thing to play with at the hospital. Now, as a young adult and cancer survivor, she and her family lead a Play-Doh drive every year and donate enough supplies to Monroe Carell Child Life Services to last the next 12 months! 

“It is amazing! And no doubt, when she was a young child being treated for cancer, the Play-Doh we were able to give her was because of donors,” says Stephanie VanDyke, Director of Child Life and Volunteer Services at Monroe Carell. “With each donation, a seed is planted and we see grateful families coming back with their gifts all because they were cared for in this way. When I say we’re thankful for the support, I mean it from the depth of my being. We absolutely cannot do what we do at Child Life Services without our community partners.”

As of 2023, through the Buy & Give paper program, Millcraft is proudly one of the community partners that VanDyke speaks of who helps and supports Monroe Carell and its Child Life Services. 

Buy & Give: More than Paper

Established in 2015, Millcraft’s Buy & Give program grew out of its mission to create meaningful impact within Millcraft’s communities. Millcraft’s Buy & Give initiative empowers businesses to contribute to local charities with each purchase of Buy & Give brand office paper. For every carton of paper purchased, Millcraft donates $1 to the program. 

Since its inception through 2023, Buy & Give has generated nearly $770,000 within Midwest communities served by Millcraft for select charitable organizations: 

Millcraft’s newest Buy & Give beneficiary, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt is a nationally ranked pediatric acute care children's teaching hospital and entity of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Millcraft’s Buy & Give donations will benefit Child Life Services at Monroe Carell, which helps children and family members cope with medical experiences. 

Child Life Specialists are trained in child development, understanding the unique needs of children, teens, and families in the hospital, and working alongside doctors and nurses to create a friendly and comfortable medical environment for children and families. Millcraft Marketing Manager Kimberly Cronk says the Millcraft Tennessee team selected Monroe Carell as their chosen charitable organization for multiple reasons, including having two Millcraft employees whose families benefited from Monroe Carell services. 

“It’s really special to be able to have something like Millcraft’s Buy & Give program, a way that a product we use everyday can benefit a local charity,” Cronk says, “and the fact that Monroe Carell helps kids even further resonates with our team.” 

Monroe Carell Child Life Services 

The team of Child Life Specialists at Monroe Carell is educated in the emotional and developmental needs of children. “We work with children experiencing healthcare to minimize any indirect or long term effects of trauma from healthcare,” VanDyke says. “Our role is not to provide medical care. We work alongside medical professionals, doctors and nurses.” 

Addressing the unique needs of children, teens, and families in the hospital through play and education, Certified Child Life Specialists partner with families and children and may address, for example:

  • Child is nervous about or has questions about an upcoming procedure or test.

  • Child needs additional support to help them during a procedure or test.

  • Child has questions, concerns, or worries about going to the doctor or being in the hospital.

  • Sibling has questions or concerns about the hospital.

  • Child has experienced a traumatic event at home or in the hospital.

  • Your child has a long-term condition or was just diagnosed with one.

  • Child needs age-appropriate toys/activities to help them cope with a hospital stay or appointment.

  • Parent/guardian has questions about your child's developmental or coping needs.

  • Parent/guardian needs suggestions for talking to your child about their health or hospital experiences. 

Child Life Services include assessing and providing individualized and age-appropriate care, and engaging education and play as forms of normalization. With playrooms stocked with arts, crafts, and games, Child Life Services provides supportive forms of distraction, recreation, coping, and an overall space of emotional support. 

In explaining what Child Life Services provides children and families, VanDyke shares the following from a former patient, who was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age: “The doctors and nurses took care of my cancer. My Child Life Specialist took care of what was in my head and my heart.” Also, from a parent whose kindergartener faced leukemia: “Cancer took childhood away from my child. Our Child Life Specialist put childhood back in my child’s life.”

Millcraft Together with Monroe Carell

A newly budding Buy & Give partnership with Monroe Carell, the Millcraft Tennessee team was recently invited to tour the hospital and witness Child Life Services in action. “While touring the hospital, we saw the ‘Ryan Seacrest’ playroom with kids participating in radio shows and having fun,” Cronk shares, and adds, “We passed by a woman, she was crying… It was very emotional, seeing her child in a wheelchair on oxygen and feeling for her… Having personally experienced my husband passing away from cancer, I was once that woman in desperation and in need of care. It made me very appreciative of Child Life Services and our opportunity to give back.”  

Millcraft looks forward to further developing this partnership. Cronk says Millcraft Tennessee team members plan to participate in future Monroe Carell community events to raise awareness, and that two Millcraft team members recently completed a Shade Tree 5K with Monroe Carell. “We feel we’re all in this together,” Cronk says. “It’s universal, we all care about our health and our families. Monroe Carell Child Life Services cares about its mission personally, and our team does, too.” 

By: Jen W. O’Deay

To learn more about the Buy & Give program in your community, Just ask.

Learn more about the powerful impact of our Buy & Give program and the charities we support.

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