HCN News & Notes

AIC Student Nurse Assoc. Brightens Holidays for Kids in Foster Care

SPRINGFIELD — Santa will receive a little help in spreading holiday cheer to children in foster care this year courtesy of American International College’s (AIC) Student Nurse Assoc.

The AIC Student Nurse Assoc. (SNA) is sponsoring a holiday toy drive for children in foster care through the Center for Human Development (CHD). This is the second year for the SNA toy drive. Last year’s efforts, which also benefited foster children, exceeded its goal with 100 toys donated.

According to AIC Assistant Professor of Nursing Carin Tripodina, who spearheads the annual drive, “the students are amazingly generous. Even though many have limited funds, they try to do more. One student picked a tag for a boy who requested one shirt. She bought two. Another, who has two children at home, delivered gifts for four children in foster care, saying that her own children will each get two fewer gifts this season.”

Student nurse Gina Polastry, a member of the SNA, can relate. Polastry went into the foster-care system at 15. Her father passed away from skin cancer when she was 13, and her mother struggled with substance abuse. She was placed with a foster family in West Springfield for more than two years. “I know what it’s like to have nothing. Even though I was with a wonderful family, [as a foster child] you feel out of the loop. I picked a tag for a 19-year-old boy who asked only for towels. When a 19-year-old requests bath towels, it hits a soft spot.”

There is good news to share. Polastry wants to work in drug rehab or an alcohol treatment facility when she graduates in 2018. Her mother has turned her life around and is a role model and devoted grandmother to Polastry’s 7-year-old daughter.

Donations for the SNA toy drive are ahead of last year’s efforts with another week to go. The community is invited to participate. Unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the School of Health Sciences, Lissa Building, on the AIC campus through Friday, Dec. 9.