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Love to Lourdes

Washington Township Family Gets District Involved to Thank Workers at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden


lourdes thanks 1

Lysette Green-Ruiz (center in pink) is joined by her children (from left) Kaleb Ruiz, Kalel Ruiz, Ailani Ruiz and Alexius Ruiz, as well as WTHS sophomore Giovanna Castellan to show off many of the donations that were collected.


WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – Bunker Hill Middle School student council members recently teamed with Mrs. Lysette Green-Ruiz, a District resident, to take part in The Encouragement Project at Virtua Health Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden. Green, the mother of Mercedez McDaniels (Washington Township High School class of 2018), Alexius Ruiz (WTHS, grade 10), Kalel Ruiz (BHMS, grade 8), Kaleb Ruiz (Chestnut Ridge Middle School, grade 8), and Ailani Ruiz (preschool, Grenloch Terrace Early Childhood Center) is a nurse at the hospital and is the creator of the project.


lourdes thanks 2 The project began when Green-Ruiz was treated for a severe illness several months back. Her children wanted to do something to thank the frontline hospital staff who helped treat their mother. Green-Ruiz decided to double-down on that gesture by trying to provide a gift of thanks to all staff at Our Lady of Lourdes. The Ruiz children presented the idea to each of their schools, and the project got buy-ins from the entire Washington Township School District. Students saved allowance money, families got donations from local stores, and The Encouragement Project was able to donate 2,000 healthy protein bars and 2,000 handmade thank you cards to the staff at Lourdes.

“Everyone has been impacted due to the Covid pandemic, and this allowed families to spend time together creating memories while providing joyful and uplifting messages,” Green-Ruiz said. “This was a thank you to the entire staff at Lourdes for their amazing service – from doctors, nurses, environmental services, dietary, and testing/diagnostics, just to name a few.”


A small group of BHMS student council members and WTHS students, plus District teachers, including BHMS student council advisor Frank Cabrera, visited Virtual Our Lady of Lourdes on December 23rd to make the presentation.


Green-Ruiz gave thanks to everyone who participated in the project, but did want to highlight a few for their exceptional efforts:


- Mike D’Ostilio, BHMS principal – “He created the beautiful flyer and made the school available as a donation site. He truly wanted this idea to flourish,” Green-Ruiz said.


- Jonathan Strout, WTHS executive principal – “He helped make copies for our initiative and created a donation site for our project,” Green-Ruiz said. “He checked in and was always willing to help with anything needed for our project.”


- Frank Cabrera, BHMS student council advisor and Spanish teacher – “He was continually available from the beginning by helping me bring the idea and ensuring the students at Bunker Hill contributed to the community initiative,” Green-Ruiz said. “He donated personally from his own family more than 120 cards, with protein bars. Mr. Cabrera helped translate our interview in Spanish to Telemundo to showcase our beautiful community service project in Spanish, too.”


- Kim Griffiths, WTHS freshman advisor – “She collaborated by helping students within her freshman class donate more than 100 cards and a lot of protein bars,” Green-Ruiz said.


- Eisa Jackson and Lindsay Radziak, WTHS Students in Action co-advisors – “They helped get 100 cards with inspirational messages donated,” Green-Ruiz said. “They were always available for last-minute changes.”


- Her five children: Mercedez, Alexius, Kalel, Kaleb, and Ailani – “This project wouldn’t have been possible without their dream to make cards for the hospital staff,” Green-Ruiz said.


- Giovanna Castellan, WTHS sophomore – “Her family made more than 100 cards, and she was super supportive in helping me shop at local stores and figuring out the best prices for protein bars,” Green-Ruiz said. “It helped us increase the number of frontline workers we could help.”


- Trina Basu, WTHS student council president – “She went to different stores and helped collect gift cards,” Green-Ruiz said. “She was always there to help me collect donations.”


- WTPS -