Conestoga Hospital Companions Club: A new club with big plans

By Soumya Sathyanarayana, Staff Reporter

Conestoga Hospital Companions is a new club that helps patients at Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia by accompanying the children and organizing fundraisers. Founded over the summer by sophomores president Shawn Padykula and vice-president Mark Bennet, physical education and health teacher Jim Moran acts as their club advisor. 

The club hopes to make a difference in children’s lives at Shriners. They want to accomplish this through raising money for the hospital as well as conducting projects to help children. These projects include writing Christmas cards to the patients at the hospital as well as planning visits to the hospital to spend time with them. 

“Our club goals are to bring joy into their (the kids’) lives and give them some companionship.” Bennet said. 

They aim to raise at least $500. The club held a fundraiser where they sold wristbands for $1 each and they have sold about 100 wristbands. They also organized a donation stand at school events like sports games. With both of these projects, the club surpassed their goal. 

The club’s plans to visit the hospital are dependent on whether COVID-19 restrictions relax but Padykula and Bennet are planning a visit to Shriners Hospital in December this year. During this visit, they also want to use the money they raised to buy toys for the kids and gift it to them. 

Moran, the advisor of the club, is thrilled to have students come to him to help children at Shriners Hospital. Along with supervising the club, he participates in meetings and helps the club plan projects.

“The fact that I had 14 and 15 year-olds approach me about helping kids who are going through so many challenges right now and actually thinking to support them was a huge part of me being invested in the club,” Moran said.

So far, the club has received a large response from student members. Having only ten members at their first meeting, the club now has more than seventy members, who have been actively participating not only in club meetings but in fundraisers as well. 

“We’re really thankful for them (the club members) because they’re the ones out there giving or raising money with us,” Padykula said. “They’ve been by our side the whole time.” 

Soumya Sathyanarayana can be reached at [email protected]