UNMC, med center employees respond to Adopt-a-Family appeal

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | December 24, 2013

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Theresa Grutel, left, and Kim Morrison drop off presents for the Adopt-a-Family effort.
It's Monday afternoon in the social work office, and although it's still nine days until Christmas, the presents are arriving in bushels.

The office is the hub for The Nebraska Medical Center's Adopt-a-Family program, and two rooms off the reception area are stuffed with gifts. At this moment -- about 2 p.m. -- more presents are arriving.

UNMC and the med center partner to "adopt" families being served at the med center. The social work department identifies families in need, collects and provides wish lists, and acts as a clearinghouse for the donated gifts.

Kim Morrison and Theresa Grutel of the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience arrived with a handcart covered with gifts.

"This is our first year, and we loved it," Morrison said.

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This teenage mutant ninja turtle is headed under someone's Christmas tree.
Morrison said she got to do all the shopping for the department's gifts -- "I got to spend everyone else's money."

Picking out clothing was a challenge, she said, since she wasn't sure her tastes would match the recipients. "But we did get gift receipts," she added.

The department is looking forward to participating again next year, she said. "We had a lot of fun."

Kay Gale, from The Nebraska Medical Center's Enterprise Technical Services department, said her department has been taking part in the effort for more than 10 years.

"We know the families in the hospital are not always from Omaha and away from their own homes and families over the holidays," she said. "So it's our way to give back to the community and share with others."

Social Work spokesperson Christyn Niroomand-Rad, who coordinated the drive, said departments donated presents to 48 families in need being served by the clinical enterprise.

"Once again, no family had to be turned away," Niroomand-Rad said. "Each year, I am astonished by the overwhelming response to continue to support our families through a program that is so unique to any other hospital in the area.

"The best part is watching the faces and smiles and that come into the Social Work office for delivery and pick up of the gifts," she said. "Honestly, the department representatives' smiles are just as big sometimes as the families picking up gifts. I think that speaks volumes about the people employed here."

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