The Herald Bulletin

March 9, 2013

'Sending our hearts'

Dozens of blankets, medical supplies, toys and items to go to Uganda

By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Shirley MacMurray won’t be going to Africa this month, but she and several other Bethany Pointe Health Campus residents said they will feel like they are on the mission trip.

“We are sending our hearts,” she said with a smile.

MacMurray and several of the residents made more than 50 baby blankets and collected several other baby gifts as staff at Bethany Pointe collected medical supplies 11 Anderson University nursing students who will be traveling to Uganda next month with professor Sarah Neal.

The students will conduct health clinics in both a remote village and in urban orphanages, schools, and community buildings in the African country during the two-week trip.

MacMurray heard about the group’s trip through her son, Bruce MacMurray, who is the chair of the criminal justice department at the university.

She said as a nurse and a mother she knew she had to help when she heard about the dire needs the children in Uganda have. She approached Penny Stevens, who is Bethany Pointe resident activity director, and the two decided to throw a baby shower.

Stevens thought that if they were going to do a shower they would do it right with games, punch and cake and, of course, the “oohing and ahhing” that accompanies gift opening. Residents began sewing blankets. Volunteers from New Horizons United Methodist Church crocheted and knitted blankets. There were more than 500 gifts for the students to take.

“It was a big success,” Stevens said excitedly. “I feel like our residents often ask, ‘What is my purpose? What can I do?’ And every time we do something like this it is a reminder that they do still have a purpose.”

In addition to gathering gifts and making blankets, the activity was cross-generational, she said. Residents have reacted positively.

“They all said they felt so good to be able to give something we needed,” she said. “And I know they loved hearing all the things I was able to tell them about Africa, giving them a snapshot of what the situation on the ground over there is — dire poverty and everything those over there have to do without. They don’t have anything like these things.”

AU nursing students all participate in intercultural trips. These trips have been to several different places. In addition to Uganda this year, students had the opportunity to go to Belize or to visit the Jewish community in Indianapolis. “Students return saying it is hands-down the best experience they had in their college career,” Neal said. “So much of our students’ time is in a classroom or hospital setting, which is important, but to do something outside of the country provides them with another level of experience that you can’t get in any other nursing program.”

Bethany Pointe resident Anita Huffman sewed about half of the blankets. She said when she heard about the need she knew it was something important to do.

“I’ve enjoyed today,” Huffman said of the shower. “It is a nice way to give back.”

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.