Richer School donates goodie bags to Marlborough hospital workers

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By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Richer School Student Council Advisor Olivia Taralli and School Adjustment Counselor Mackenzie Coakley hold donated goodie bags next to Marlborough Hospital COO John Kelly.
Richer School Student Council Advisor Olivia Taralli and School Adjustment Counselor Mackenzie Coakley hold donated goodie bags next to Marlborough Hospital COO John Kelly. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

Marlborough – A handful of frontline workers at Marlborough’s UMass Memorial Hospital will soon get to swap medical face masks for spa-style ones thanks to a donation from the Raymond C. Richer Elementary School.

Self-care for selfless viewers

Organized through the Student Council, the donation effort gathered roughly 40 goodie bags worth of self-care products for front line workers currently in the throes of COVID-19 fight.

“We are truly grateful for the outpouring of support that we’ve had from the community,” the hospital’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications Ellen Carlucci said. “It is particularly heartwarming when young children, the students in our community, really want to thank our caregivers for the hard work that they’ve been doing throughout this pandemic.”

Student Council Advisor Olivia Taralli dropped off the donations alongside School Adjustment Counselor Mackenzie Coakley Dec. 21 to Carlucci and a handful of other hospital staff members.

“They’re doing so much for the community,” Taralli said of the nurses and doctors working within the hospital. “They deserve to be able to relax and get a little bit of comfort.”

Students led successful donations drive

Taralli credited the success of the donation effort to students themselves.

She said the Student Council met back at the beginning of the school year brainstorming ideas for action and advocacy that they could accomplish in spite of coronavirus limitations on meetings and fundraisers.

“It’s hard with the kids not being in-person,” Taralli said. “We can’t really have too much contact.”

The solution was a video.

Students sent in clips appealing to community members for everything from tea to bath bombs. The school community then turned out in force, filling goodie bags with supplies.

“It really was something where we just asked them to donate something comforting,” Taralli explained.

Hospital staff grateful for support as they look towards future

For frontline workers, all this is particularly helpful, especially now.

Daily reports of new COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts have soared to record levels since Thanksgiving. That has meant ICUs at facilities like UMass Memorial have filled, putting hospital workers in extremely high stress situations after some were able to briefly catch their breath over the summer.

“We get little signs,” Carlucci said of recent community support. “We get notes. And it really means a lot to the folks who, day in and day out, are taking care of very sick patients.”

Outside of donations like the Richer School goodie bags, morale has improved slightly, Carlucci says, since COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Marlborough this month.

“You could feel the energy [and] the excitement,” Carlucci said. “…That really has given them hope.”

Frontline workers will get their second vaccine dose in the coming weeks.

The Richer School’s goodie bags, meanwhile, will be distributed to the handful of nurses and doctors set to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, according to Carlucci.