Hannah Banana Foundation visited the Ocean Medical Center Wednesday, bearing therapeutic gifts for chronicallly ill, hospitalized patients to be distributed as needed throughout the coming months.
Volunteers from Brick and the surrounding communities set up an assembly line to package the donated gifts, which included word puzzles, notepads, pens, coloring books, markers, playing cards and response postcards.
Toms River dentist and Middletown resident, Gary Prisand D.M.D., P.A., and two volunteers from the Hannah Banana Foundation came to Ocean Medical to help set up and delegate.
Twice a year, visits like these are made to 18 hospitals in the New York and New Jersey area to fill 10,000 banana yellow bags. Each bag is given to chronically ill adult patients who spend large amounts of their time in medical centers with little else to occupy their time. These activity bags gives these people something to entertain their hands as well as their minds, organizers said.
Hannah Banana was founded by Prisand and his daughter Arin Prisand in 2008 in honor of his wife and her mother, Hannah “Banana” Prisand who spent over thirty years in and out of the hospital, most of the time at Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank. The Prisands noticed that other patients were not as blessed to have a loving, laughing family to get through the long days and painful recovering process.
“Most of my adult life, I thought about spreading positive energy to patients and creating the Hannah Banana Foundation,” said Arin on the Hannah Banana website. “The purpose of Hannah Banana Foundation has become clearer to me and even more important as I see myself giggle at the games we play... Laughter is truly the best medicine.”
The gifts are not distributed immediately, but packaged and left in the care of Ocean Medical personnel to be distributed as needed throughout the year.
Diane Doherty, an oncology nurse, had a patient in mind who she knew would appreciate and benefit from a gift like this when she first heard about the foundation’s mission.
“Its beautiful. It will be so well received,” said Doherty.
A selfless project like Hannah Banana was not the first she’s heard of, but it was the first established one.
“I have amazing families here, one of our patients knitted little blankets beautifully. Her husband [still] comes in and hands them out,” said Doherty.
Not only does Hannah Banana Foundation distribute activity packs to help pass the time, but they also offer white boards, markers and erasers for patients who have difficulty communicating.
Lorraine Kohrmann, an Ocean Medical Center volunteer, was eager to contribute to the cause.
"I’m just a volunteer," she said. "I didn’t know what they were. We just knew something was coming!"
Hannah Banana hospital liaison Charlie Ziegler said he appreciated the hospital helping package the various gifts.
“Otherwise, me and the wife will do it watching TV!” said Ziegler.
For more information about the Hannah Banana Foundation and getting involved, upcoming fundraiser, or ways to donate, visit their website http://www.hannahbananafoundation.org/