‘Rosie’s Hugs’ brings happiness to kids in emergency rooms

Rosie's Hugs began two years ago as a way to bring comfort to scared and sick children at two local emergency rooms


By EMS1 Staff

ROCKPORT, Maine — Stefanie McAllister said that if she and her husband ever won the lottery, she would buy a stuffed animal for every child who needed comfort. While she hasn't won the lottery yet, McAllister did launch Rosie's Hugs.

Rosie's Hugs began two years ago as a way to bring comfort to scared and sick children at two local emergency rooms. McAllister collects new or "like new" stuffed animals that are then handed out to young patients. She named the effort after her daughter, Rose, who was stillborn at 27 weeks, reported the Pen Bay Pilot.

An emergency room nurse’s organization brings happiness to kids in the ER through stuffed animals. (Photo/Rosie's Hugs)
An emergency room nurse’s organization brings happiness to kids in the ER through stuffed animals. (Photo/Rosie's Hugs)

McAllister, whose husband is an emergency room doctor at Pen Bay Medical Center, donates the stuffed animals to the Penobscot Bay and Waldo County emergency rooms. To date, the organization has donated 1,500 stuffed animals. 

“I have always been a huge fan of stuffed animals and the comfort they bring,” McAllister told the Penn Bay Pilot. 

McAllister said the goal of “Rosie’s Hugs” is to decrease some of the fear that children often experience in the hospital.

“No child should have to be scared,” she said. “I felt like, why wait until we won the lottery. Couldn't we just collect stuffed animals and maybe involve the community in helping.”

The collection began in 2016 on a shelf in the nurse’s room at Pen Bay Medical Center, and the stuffed animal count increased with toy drives, as well as donations from the community.

“The program has been so well received and done so much better than I ever thought and I feel so glad when I hear stories from parents about how it made a difference to their child,” she said.

Editor's note: This article has been modified to clarify Stefanie McAllister is not an emergency room nurse. 

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