A bag full of courage

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Hailey Stalzer, at left, and her sister Hannah Stalzer, both 11, go through some of the donated items that will go into the Brave Bags the St. Mary School sixth-grade class in Humboldt is putting together for hospitalized children.

HUMBOLDT — For a child, being a hospital patient can be a scary, lonesome and not very pleasant experience no matter how much the doctors, nurses and family try to make it as comfortable as possible.

That last part is where a group of Humboldt students at St. Mary’s School and their teacher, Katie Phillips, come in to help.

They’re putting together for delivery to children hospitalized at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge and the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City drawstring bags full of things to make the patients’ stay and life easier.

They’re called Brave Bags and a variety of things are put into them for the students.

Hannah Stalzer, 11, lists some of them.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
St. Mary’s School sixth-grade teacher Katie Phillips poses with some of the items collected so far by her students during their annual Brave Bags campaign.

“Slippers, socks, toiletry items and small games,” Stalzer said. “All the items must be small enough to fit in a bag and they must be new.”

Her twin sister, Hailey Stalzer, 11, had another item.

“New small stuffed animals,” she said.

Phillips said that this is the third class to have to done the annual project. The important lesson for the students is to learn about empathy.

Karley Gascho, 11, defined what empathy is.

“It’s putting ourselves in other people’s shoes,” she said.

So how many bags would they like to be able to fill this year?

Anthony Stalpes, 12, has the answer.

“250 bags,” he said, confident that the goal will be achieved.

The students will be taking all the donated items and packing them into the Brave Bags after they’re done collecting on Feb. 1. The bags will then be taken to the hospitals where the staff will distribute them to their junior patients.

For a complete list of items the class is seeking, the information is available online.

Macy Berte, 11, knows exactly where.

“Go to www.bravebags.org,” she said.

Phillips is proud of her students.

“Very much so,” she said.

Donations can be dropped off at the school, too. It is located at 303 Third Ave. N. in Humboldt. Donations will be accepted until Feb. 1.

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