A girl, a dog, books add comfort at ETCH

Lisa Bengston, a volunteer, with her Golden Retriever, Aidan.
Lisa Bengston took on a tough task as a volunteer at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s Cystic Fibrosis and Healthy Ways clinics.

Fatal congenital disease affects afflicted children from birth, yet Bengston, through a Child Life Therapist working there and Human Animal Bond in Tennessee, decided to bring as much hope as she could to the patients with help from her Golden Retriever, Aidan.

While the two kept up weekly clinic visits for eight years, Bengston saw other matters she believed she could help impact, which led to helping provide books for ETCH patients.

“Their supply is particularly low now, due to recently adopted infection control policies and toy cleaning procedures,” she said. “No books are allowed to remain in waiting rooms anymore, and any that are passed out must be given away, as there is too much of a risk to potentially spread germs on books and pages,” added Bengston, who is leading a fund-raising effort through GoFundMe with help from her employer, Usborne Books & More.

Bengston said that on most days, Child Life Therapists are paged and asked if patients could have another book, toys and books or even coloring books to engage children and help pass the time.

“There’s something timelessly comforting about a book — the way it can invite snuggles with a loved one or take your mind off your pain or current situation, maybe offering a few laughs as well,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page. “All (are) positive things for a child going through a hospital stay.

“My goal, and the goal of this fundraiser, is to fill the book carts and Child Life closet space with as many books as possible, and (my)company has offered to match 50 percent of all donations raised,” she added.

“There will be no tax or shipping, and I am covering the small fees associated with GoFundMe, so 150 percent of all donations will be used to purchase books, which is amazing.”

Even as little as a $15 donation can provide three books, while a $100 donation could provide 20.

Usborne Books & More, headquarted in the United Kingdom, has many matching grant programs to provide books in many capacities, Bengston said, and this effort with ETCH is just one more way to make sure more children — especially sick ones — have access.

For more information, call 865-603-1807, visit https://www.gofundme.com/manage/books-for-etch or e-mail usbornewithlisab@gmail.com