|Candy stripers reach out to patients
by Clara MacMillan
As she rolls the book cart down the hospital corridor, Alexzandria
Gilliard knows she has something that will take patients’ minds off
their woes. She has romance, mystery and adventure on her shelves.
Gilliard, 16, of West Ashley, brings the book cart to patients.
Gilliard likes to interact with patients as a candy striper in hopes of
brightening their day. She also gains experience that may help her in
her goal of becoming a histologist.
She is participating in MUSC’s candy striper program, which allows
students ages 14 to 18 years, to volunteer helping patients for two
weeks to learn about the medical field. This summer, MUSC has
about 35 candy stripers volunteering during each of the three summer
Candy striper Asia Johnson, 15, of Summerville, said she decided to
volunteer because she wants to pursue a career in the medical field.
Johnson’s typical day is transporting patients in Rutledge Tower.
“It’s a lot of walking and very busy,” she said. “This has given me
hands-on volunteer hours and helped me to learn how to deal with every
type of personality.”
Not every student is volunteering because they want to be in the
medical field. Harsh Sharma, 14, a freshman at Academic Magnet
High School, likes helping people in the hospital and needs volunteer
hours for school. He has participated in two sessions this summer and
plans to volunteer again next summer.
“It feels good when someone says thanks for volunteering and knowing
that you have helped patients out,” said Sharma.
Candy stripers from
left are Mayan Desouki, Harsh Sharma, Ashlee Carbone, Nora Obeid, Delia
Juliana and Asia Johnson.
Another student, Nora Obeid, 14, of Mount Pleasant, wanted to spend her
summer experiencing different career fields. “I don’t like having a
boring summer, so I decided to try different things,” said Obeid.
The program is popular with parents. Obeid’s mother, Eileen Obeid, said
it has given her daughter a sense of accomplishment and pride.
“I’m especially proud of her for doing this volunteer work because she
isn’t required by her high school to do it. She just wanted to do
something useful with her time this summer, so all around it has been a
great experience, and I hope she will continue to volunteer her time,”
In addition to transporting patients, candy stripers’ responsibilities
include greeting visitors, delivering equipment, answering telephones,
dropping off mail and flowers and filing papers. Many of the students
also have other volunteer jobs.
Ashlee Carbone, 17, of Fort Dorchester High School, said this is her
third summer with the candy stripers. She enjoys volunteering,
especially at the Ronald McDonald House and the American Heart
“When somebody says ‘you just made my day,’ it makes your day, too,”
For information on the candy striper program at MUSC, visit its Web
site at http://www.muschealth.com/volunteer/candystriper.htm
or contact one of the volunteer recruiters, Robert Watson at 792-3580
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or Matthias Frye at 876-3102 (email@example.com).
Friday, July 30,