Students help young hospital patients

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SARASOTA - The hospital can be one of the scariest places for a child to visit, but some nursing students here on the Suncoast are hoping to change that.

Stuck in a hospital bed is the last place a child wants to be, but on Friday it was a different experience for some of the kids in the pediatrics unit at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, as nursing students surprised them with a teddy bear.

“I think this is a way for the college to really reach out to the community, give back to the community, and really demonstrate the way the community supports our program too,” says Brittny Chabalowski of the University of South Florida.

It’s a program that was created by University of South Florida College alumni, reaching out to hospitals where their students do their clinicals. “I think from our nursing student’s standpoint, it's a chance for them to give back, and a chance for them to really experience some great moments with some children that they could potentially be taking care of in the future,” says Chabalowski.

Anna Smith says that’s something she truly enjoys, especially the part about bringing joy to the kids' lives. “I think it's a great experience, because they might not be able to go home for the holidays and then you're stuck in this place that you don't really know and you're not familiar with, and it can be a very stressful time, I know, very stressful.”

Some parents couldn't agree more. “I think it's nice for them to know somebody cares,” says Cheri Donnell.

It’s putting a smile on everyone's face and a new friend in the arms of a child. “I have a bear that makes my comfy here,” says Trinity Donnell.

A total of 6 children received the bears.