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The Catalyst

MUSC employees donate time, energy in Day of Caring activities

By J. Ryne Danielson
Public Relations

MUSC’s Weight Management Center’s Jenny Boyce, from left, Lynne Becker, Suzanne Kuker, Tonya F. Turner, Shawn Witherspoon, Dr. Patrick O’Neil, Mary Harley, and Rhonda Ascanio gathered items for the families of ICU patients as part of Trident United Way’s annual Day of Caring. photos by J. Ryne Danielson, Public Relations

On Nov. 14, all across the Lowcountry, thousands of volunteers came together to serve their communities in Trident United Way’s 15th annual Day of Caring.

Whitney McLuen, employee campaign coordinator with MUSC’s Office of Development, coordinates Trident United Way’s activities on campus. “This event really showcases our tremendous number of generous, caring, and philanthropic — minded employees,” she said. “They’re not only committed to making MUSC a better place — but also the entire Lowcountry.”  

MUSC has partnered with Trident United Way for the Day of Caring since 2000. This year saw the largest turnout yet. From MUSC alone, 22 groups and more than 400 individuals volunteered for everything from building greenhouses to baking cookies.

One of the groups, the faculty and staff of the Weight Management Center, filled comfort kits for families of intensive care patients. These kits included items such as granola bars, playing cards, dental floss, note pads, and pens. Suzanne Kuker, research coordinator, led the activity. She said she feels it’s important to give back, especially to the MUSC family.  

Volunteers stage an assembly line to fill comfort kits with the items gathered.

Kuker identifies directly with those she is helping; her mother recently had bypass surgery. “That takes several days of preparation,” she said, “and hours of sitting in a waiting room.  I’d have loved to have gotten something like this.”

The Department of Public Safety also lent a hand by gathering “snacks in sacks” for patients at Hollings Cancer Center. These sacks contained lotion, blankets, coffee, tea, cookies, and crackers — things Jennie Sirisky, technology and recruitment coordinator, hopes will make patients more comfortable. “Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer,” said Sirisky, who organized the event for her department. She is no exception; Sirisky’s father and brother have both battled cancer. She, along with Glenn Iannuzzi, systems support technician, delivered the care packages that morning.

Diane Aghapour, patient services support coordinator, and Kiki Cooper, director of special events, were among Hollings’ staff there to receive the donated items.  I can’t thank them enough,” Aghapour said. “We have great, generous people throughout the Charleston area. We love these kinds of connections."  

Cooper reiterated the importance of building the types of interdepartmental relationships the Day of Caring promotes.“The patients know that it takes everyone,” she said. “From the nurses and physicians, to the people making sure that they have a safe campus.” She also stressed how much patients enjoy the care packages they receive.

Trident United Way, founded in 1944, is in the seventieth year of its mission, bringing individuals together with businesses and government to build stronger communities. “The skills, expertise and enthusiasm of volunteers are among our greatest resources,” said Barry Waldman, vice president of communications and marketing at the nonprofit. “With hundreds of Day of Caring volunteers from two dozen departments, MUSC is a key partner with Trident United Way.”  

Partnerships and strategic volunteerism are important tools for accomplishing the organization’s goals of increasing high school graduation rates, fostering financial stability and improving community health.

“We’re making progress on all three,” Waldman said, “but we have a long way to go.”  

Trident United Way’s 2014 fundraising campaign continues through December; donations can be made online at

December 7, 2014



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