Aided by Google and some gumption, Chamberlain College of Nursing alumna Jennifer Krassinger launched a non-profit organization that touches the lives of families in need in the St. Louis area.
Giving is a Family Tradition (GiFT) was founded by Krassinger, a 2008 graduate of the RN-BSN program, to help provide essential items to needy families with babies in the NICU.
“Through my work as a nurse, I saw a lot of families who didn’t have what I had,” said Krassinger, who works as a NICU nurse at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “I was always surrounded by warmth and love, and I wanted to share that.”
Krassinger started a family holiday project, encouraging her relatives to donate to a NICU family in need. As word of mouth spread about her efforts, the project grew steadily. In 2010, what started as a family tradition turned into something more as she started receiving checks in the mail from people she had never met. She was able to provide a happy holiday for three families that year.
“I was inspired by this idea that there were so many people that wanted to help these families and wanted nothing in return,” she said.
As a clinical nurse, Krassinger said she didn’t know much about starting or running a business, so she turned to Google and has been learning ever since. GiFT became incorporated just three months later, in March 2011, in the state of Missouri.
GiFT has since expanded beyond the Holiday Project to include programs such as “Destination Home,” which outfits NICU nurseries in a family’s home with everything needed to care for their child once they come home. Currently in development is “GiFT Gets You There,” a program that helps families who have trouble getting to the hospital to visit their newborn by providing gas or Metra cards.
While she loves her work with GiFT, she will always be a bedside nurse at heart, she said.
“I like the challenge, I like learning, and there’s always an opportunity to learn—no doubt about that,” she said. “I like helping families understand the clinical conditions of their baby, caring for them during that critical period and then seeing them get better. I like seeing their journey.”
GiFT is completely run by volunteers, and the organization is always looking for more people to become involved. To learn how to volunteer, visit their website.