The Island Park Civic Association collected nearly 100 stuffed bunnies at its third annual Hug-A-Bunny Fundraiser earlier this month, which the group donated to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside on April 12 to be distributed to children.
“We had bagfuls,” said Lynn Bert, South Nassau’s nurse manager for pediatrics. “You know bunnies. They multiply,” she joked.
Alongside Bert, Dr. Lincoln Ferguson, associate chairman of pediatrics, Kerri Wagner, child and family life specialist, and registered nurse Cecilia Carey accepted the IPCA’s donation.
The bunnies are given to patients in the pediatric unit, Bert said, as well as to children in the pediatric emergency room and new brothers and sisters in the maternity unit. The plush animals are also gifted to the SIBS place — Survivorship in Brothers and Sisters — the hospital’s free therapeutic program in Hewlett for children living with a sibling or parent with cancer, or another devastating illness.
“They definitely get spread out around,” Bert said, who noted the child could take the bunnies home with them when they leave the hospital. “I had a child today who had to go downstairs for a procedure, and he brought his bunny with him.”
Debbie Rothman, vice president of the Island Park Civic Association, said the idea came to her a few years ago when the Long Island chapter of her Cornell University alumni association had an event with stuffed bears during the Christmas season.
“During Easter time, kids in the hospital are forgotten about,” Rothman said. “During Christmas, everybody’s bringing stuff to hospitals.”
The IPCA hosted the fundraising event on April 7 at Island Park’s Local Ale House, which featured live music from Long Island rock band Second Chance. Bags of new stuffed bunnies and other plush animals were collected in an effort to brighten up a child’s day. Rothman said: “It brings a smile to their face.”