When it comes to being a good community member, sometimes the answer is as simple as deciding to say “yes” the next time someone asks for help. When Suffern, NY, resident Meg McCluskey reached out to her wide circle of friends and family to help her make a difference in the world, the good people in her life responded with a resounding “yes.”
For the past three Octobers, McCluskey has made very thoughtful donations to The Valley Hospital and encouraged others to join her. As an independent business owner and stylist for Stella & Dot, McCluskey asked people to donate $27 towards the purchase of one of the items she sells, a chic toiletry bag. She directed 100 percent of her commission towards converting them into “chemo care Pouches,” filling the bags with comforting items for patients undergoing treatment at Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care in Paramus.
Year after year, support for this project has increased, and this year more than 200 “chemo care Pouches” were sponsored. McCluskey was amazed – but not surprised – by the overwhelming generosity.
“It is touching to witness everyone’s eagerness to give to this important cause, caring for strangers,” McCluskey remarked. “And it is so important for us to model this kindness for our children and have them experience being philanthropic.”
It was a collective effort. With the help of McCluskey's daughters, Kaelin and Ellie, and dozens of friends, they filled the bags with socks, lip balm, mints, teabags, lotions and lemon oil donated by Jenny Watson of Young Living Essential Oils. Jenny Kirby, McCluskey’s friend and owner of Character’s Restaurant in Sloatsburg, hosted the annual “stuffing party” in the venue’s party room.
To make the bags even more personalized and inspiring, hand-written notes with thoughtful messages of hope and encouragement were written by local Girl Scout and Brownie troops and slid into each one before the ribbon was tied.
“How wonderful – an entire community coming together to do something nice for complete strangers,” said Valerie Quigley, BSN, RN, OCN, Manager of Valley’s Infusion Center. “Not only do our patients love receiving these, but it warms the hearts of our entire department to know that Meg is so committed to taking the time to organize this event and to know that so many others care about Valley’s patients.”
Asked why she directs her fundraising efforts towards Valley, McCluskey explained, “Because The Valley Hospital is local; it’s not a big national nonprofit. It felt a lot more personal knowing that we are doing this for people fighting cancer right here in our own community, right down the road.”
Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care — a partnership with the Valley Hospital and Mount Sinai Health System — is grateful for these generous donations.