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‘Thank you, health care heroes’

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s horticulture department delivered 450 poinsettia plants to UPMC Susquehanna on Thursday for distribution to health care workers.

The plants are annually grown in the Schneebeli Earth Science Center greenhouse for a holiday sale, but ongoing COVID-19 concerns prompted the traditional event’s cancellation. Instead, senior administration agreed that the poinsettias should be donated to front-line workers in hopes of bringing some seasonal cheer in the midst of their selfless service.

A UPMC employee helps arrange a lobby table brimming with gratitude.
A UPMC employee helps arrange a lobby table brimming with gratitude.

“Horticulture students and faculty have put a lot of work and dedication toward growing a full greenhouse of poinsettias this year.  Although the students could not host a public sale, they are excited that the plants can go to such a good cause,” said Justin W. Beishline, assistant dean of diesel technology and natural resources.

“We are all well aware of the daily hardships that health care workers face, and feel blessed that we can give them a little something that might make their day or holiday more special.”

The delivery was welcomed by Sherry Watts, vice president of the Susquehanna Health Foundation, who handled distribution to four shifts of employees at UPMC’s Williamsport campus.

“Health care workers here at UPMC, as well as across the state, country and world, have been moving mountains in their heroic response to this pandemic. Every day, they overcome new challenges and work tirelessly to ensure we have access to the highest quality and safest care in our communities,” she said.

“They’re there when we need them, and it’s heartwarming to see the community rally support for these heroes with these acts of kindness. We are extremely grateful for Penn College’s donation and ongoing commitment to health care in our community.”

The plants were prepped and wrapped at the Earth Science Center by Justin Shelinski, a member of the horticulture faculty, and students in his Containerized Plant Production class; laboratory assistants Wyatt C. Forest (horticulture) and Nathan D. Avery (forestry) drove them to UPMC and, assisted by a fast-acting brigade of extra hospital hands, unloaded the hundreds of flowering 6- and 7-inch pots into a lobby off the main entrance.

In a similar delivery during the Spring 2020 semester, near the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the college redirected to UPMC a collection of bedding plants that were cultivated for another called-off greenhouse sale.

In lieu of this year’s sale, several poinsettias were also given to the college’s Admissions Office to donate to high school counselors.

– Photos by Shelinski and Tom Wilson, writer/editor-PCToday



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