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4-H groups get creative to benefit children's hospital

June 22, 2005|by Alicia Notarianni

alician@herald-mail.com

Sometimes inspiration comes in small packages.

The Washington County 4-H Fashion Club and the Chewsville 4-H Club found a bundle of inspiration in 14-month-old Alivia Koontz.

Alivia Koontz has heart and lung conditions and already has withstood two heart surgeries at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware.

On Saturday, June 18, the clubs held a yard sale at Shiloh United Methodist Church and raised roughly $100 to fund supplies for a project to benefit the children's hospital.

Alivia Koontz's mother, Angela Koontz, 28, of Hagerstown, was a member of the Chewsville 4-H Club as a child. She went on to found the Washington County 4-H Fashion Club about eight years ago and continues to lead it today.

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This year, for their annual service project, fashion club members wanted to do something to give back to the hospital where their leader's daughter received care.

Sarah Reid, 10, of Hagerstown, is a member of the fashion club.

"I think it's a good cause to help out," Reid said. "If we help out, it'll make the kids (at the hospital) feel pretty good."

Angela Koontz helped the group contact staff at the hospital's cardiac unit. They learned that the unit is in need of hypoallergenic pillows and blankets for the patients.

"The hospital said patients like to hold blankets and pillows over their chests when they cough or sneeze to help ease the pressure after surgery," Angela Koontz said.

Since the fashion group specializes in sewing, the project seemed to be a perfect match. However, Angela Koontz said the specific materials necessary to craft the pillows and blankets will be somewhat costly. In order to raise money to purchase the fabrics and fillers, the fashion club teamed up with the Chewsville 4-H Club for the yard sale.

The Chewsville club is lead by Alivia Koontz's grandmother, Nevalene Uzelac of Hagerstown.

"Anything to help the people that helped my granddaughter," Uzelac said.

Joyce Storer, 57, of Hagerstown, paid a $10 vendor fee to participate in the event. Storer said she had been looking for a group to join for a yard sale.

"I worked as a pediatric nurse when I was younger," Storer said. "A sale to benefit a children's hospital seemed like an excellent cause."

Alivia Koontz's aunt, Julie Koontz, 33, of Hampstead, Md., also had a table at the sale. She was inspired to help out by another volunteer group that donated Easter eggs to the children's hospital following one of Alivia's surgeries.

"When patients get something like that, it's a nice surprise. They don't expect it and it really makes a difference," Julie Koontz said.

Fashion club member Katie Frey, 14, of Smithsburg said, "I hope we help a lot of children get what they need. It's just a really good feeling inside."

Angela Koontz said lengths of stay for patients at the children's hospital can range from several days to several months. The 4-H clubs hope to provide enough pillows and blankets to distribute to patients at the hospital for a two-month period. When they go home, patients will take their pillows and blankets with them as comforting gifts.

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