Special to SW Rankin News
Richland Mayor's Youth Council (RMYC) is primarily a community service organization. They assist the community in city events and earn volunteer hours that are credited towards their high school graduation. Every year members of RMYC select an organization to donate items and/or service. In the past RMYC selected a local animal shelter, Blair E Batson Hospital for Children as well as a local womens shelter as a service project.
This past October, youth council selected Blair E Batson once more. The first step was sending out messages, encouraged people to donate items. Then COVID-19 entered the picture. Before RMYC could respond, Blair E. Batson contacted them directly, requesting snack-food donations. They were experiencing a shortage because the usual volume of donations had stopped. Stephanie Ward, TITLE, without hesitation, said yes. Ward explains that “this particular snack drive happened very last minute.”
Ward says that she and RMYC maintain a very good relationship with BEB, especially in regard to the “Adopt-a-Floor” program. In the past, Ward has made it a habit to reach out to BEB to say “hey my kids want to adopt a floor again...I already know all of the information and we setup a time to where I go and drop the snacks off.” Donations not only come from the youth council members, but also from parents, as well as local residents, including Mayor Sullivan, City aldermen, City employees donated as well as generous citizens.
Ward explains that this donation to the “Adopt-a-Floor” program is one of four the RMYC has made since she has been a part of the program.
The “Adopt-a-Floor” program assists parents of children who are receiving treatments at BEB, who are taking temporary residency at the hospital. Ward says that they are in need of a little extra nutrition “because if you have a sick child you do not want to leave the room to get something to eat.” So for each patient on the adopted floor – one family member gets two snacks, to tie them over and help supplement their meals.
Ward delivers the donated snack to the hospital herself. She says the process includes making an appointment with the hospital program coordinator to schedule a specific drop-off time. The drop-off location is typically a cetain door located in front of the BEB complex. She explains that it is easier to come to the car, and load up onto carts, and transport the donations to the families. This time protocols were a little different...maintaining social distancing, wearing masks/gloves and following hospital regulation that have been put in place since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ward has since challenged other mayors youth councils in Rankin County to also participate in this particular service project as a way to encourage more involvement. She says so far she has heard back from one youth council who accepted her challenge.
Ward says that, in general, “I would love to challenge anybody in our county to look into doing service projects, not just Blair E Batson, but also the womens shelter, animal shelter, anything for the greater good of the community. To help others.I want people to start looking into what people need, sometimes a person in the community may just need a hello, just how are you doing, there may be an organization the community that needs help, especially so now, since the virus is going on. Their funding has probably been cut, or something like that. I just want people to reach out and help others.”