Wednesday, April 8, 2020

MSU March of Dimes works to support area families

January 30, 2011

Although some MSU student groups chose to remain active solely on campus, one group in particular goes beyond these ivy-covered halls and into a local hospital.

For three years, the MSU chapter of the March of Dimes has worked closely with Sparrow Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, to assist infant patients and their families, said international relations senior Monika Johnson, the chapter’s president. The NICU provides care for premature newborn babies or sick, full-term babies suffering from acute illness, according to Sparrow Hospital’s website.

“The mission of March of Dimes is to help the health of babies,” she said. “We do a lot of stuff to try to give back to the people in NICU.”

The chapter actively is involved with the hospital, giving tours of the wing at least a couple times a year and providing special gift baskets to families with babies who are ready to leave the unit, Johnson said. The MSU chapter of the March of Dimes kicks off work on its basket program today.

“Having a baby is expensive enough already,” she said. “We include everything from blankets to gas cards to diapers.”

Johnson said the group put together eight baskets last year but hopes to complete 20 this year. Each basket is valued at about $100, she said.

Group members also collaborated last year on the sewing of special dolls that nurses give to moms following their baby’s birth, Johnson said. The dolls — which are referred to as “snoodles” — capture the mother’s scent in hopes that the baby will start to develop a bond with their mother as they hold the doll, she said.

Participating in this type of work is fulfilling for many students involved.

“Working with March of Dimes was something I wanted to do once I saw how we could help other people,” said human biology and prenursing junior Amelia Meier, the chapter’s secretary. “I actually saw what we did and how we’re actually in a group that gives back.”

March of Dimes’ work doesn’t go unnoticed by those receiving the aid, said Kathy Marble, a clinical nurse specialist at Sparrow Hospital who works at the NICU with MSU’s March of Dimes chapter.

“These baskets are wonderful,” she said. “The parents just love them. They were just in shock that students would do this for them.”

The group also was instrumental in planning a reunion for former patients and their families last year, Marble said. The event featured games, activities and a chance for former patients to reconnect with their doctors and caretakers.

“I certainly think they enhance the care we give the families,” Marble said.

“They’re an integral part of helping us provide care in the NICU.”
The group meets at 7:30 p.m. every Monday in C-104 Wells Hall.

For more information on the March of Dimes at MSU, visit


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