|ACH Patients and Families Celebrate Memorial Day with Members of our Armed Forces|
More than 100 patients and family members attended the lively event, organized by Child Life Department director Kristin Maier and her staff. Among the many highlights: six members of MacDill Air Force base arrived to mingle with kids and families, play in a make-shift sand box and help decorate boxes to be shipped to U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.
The holiday heat of was offset by several specially equipped "mister" fans that created a light, refreshing spray on passersby.
There were also several pop-up tents set up to shield young revelers from the sun - and provide cover for a band that consisted of several All Children's staffers - communications editor Dave Scheiber, creative services director Mike Sexton and information technology director Jim Lewis (otherwise known as Squiggly Jim and the Waltones) as well as Dave's wife Janie and daughters Laura and Mollie. The group entertained the crowd with country and rock hits, as well as some patriotic classics.
Much-appreciated support was provided by the Dietary Services department, including food service supervisor Mary Ann Taksas.
"They were on the ball, responding to our every request," Maier said. "They were timely and such a joy to work with, EVS (Environmental Services) never missed a beat, setting up and breaking down-offering to help throughout the day, Maintenance had our tents set up, purchased fans with misters-made sure they were all set up and ready to go and electricity turned on. All of these departments were so kind and went above and beyond."
In all, three bins were filled with gifts from ACH employees - including from regional outpatient care centers. The goodies were then placed in boxes by the children to be sent to the troops. Compensation analyst Meghann Helman came in on her day off to help at the box-decorating station, a way of honoring her sister, who is serving in Afghanistan.
The two-hour gathering ended with the playing of Taps by St. Petersburg High School sophomore Carl Plant, who volunteered his time to perform the song on a bugle used in the cavalry by his great-great-great uncle during World War I.
Added Maier: "It was so nice to be outside, to have the opportunity to work side by side with so many great departments, with our military, and see families really enjoying themselves."