Hospital News

A bag full of blessings


It has been said that blessings come in many shapes and sizes, and thanks to one caring UPMC Western Maryland employee and her family and friends, patients at the Schwab Family Cancer Center are now experiencing a bag full of them.

Sadie Thomas, who has worked in the Transportation Department for the last 4.5 years, was motivated to collect “blessing bags” full of goodies to help cancer patients cope while they undergo treatment.

After finding the idea online, Sadie sought donations on Facebook and had several coworkers chip in. Twelve people gave $800 worth of donations which purchased provisions for 56 bags.

The insulated lunch bags were stuffed with candy, gum, protein bars, lotion, hand sanitizer, pencils, pens, note pads, games, a water bottle and more, as well as an uplifting note offering encouragement during the patient’s treatment.

“We are very grateful to the Thomas family for their donation of these blessing bags,” said Ben Kosewski, Executive Director, Cancer Services at the Schwab Family Cancer Center. “We don’t often get gifts of this variety, and our patients love the thoughtfulness behind what has gone into them.”

Sadie and her family worked with the UPMC Western Maryland Foundation to provide the donation. “I was struck, once again, by the generosity and creativity of one individual who wants to make a difference,” said Foundation Director Karen Johnson. The 56 bags filled to the brim with useful, thoughtful items will help oncology patients pass the time during chemotherapy. Moreover, they will share the unspoken message that someone was thinking of them and cared enough to build the bags. I’m convinced the encouragement brought by gestures like this can be even more valuable than the gifts themselves. Encouragement has incredible power.”

Sadie cited her past family history of cancer, as well as her relationships with the patients she transports, as her motivation to give back. “In my job I often I get to know these patients from spending a lot of time moving them around the hospital. I always try to let them know that someone is there for them, and I think these bags help with that.”

Pictured left to right at the time of the donation are Nicki Thompson, Manager, Cancer Programs and Services at the Schwab Family Cancer Center; Karen Johnson, Director of the UPMC Western Maryland Foundation; Ben Kosewski, Executive Director, Cancer Services at the Schwab Family Cancer Center; Sadie Thomas; Cameron Thomas and little Sophia Thomas.