A Christmas vacation in the Dominican Republic was more than a chance to get away from the cold of Labrador for high school student Maggie Drover and her family.
Drover spent time last summer at a hospital in La Romana as part of the Gap Med program. Through that program, students volunteer to work in hospitals to gain first-hand experience in a hospital setting with a mentor.
It was an experience that taught Drover a lot.
“I realized right away that medicine was the career of choice for me, but I realized that many of the newborn children’s parents didn’t have a lot of clothes for new babies," she says.
"When I returned to Canada, I started a drive to collect clothes for the babies in the Dominican Republic. The response to my Facebook page was overwhelming, people from all over Newfoundland and Labrador sent clothes and some cash donations as well."
There was lots of help from her parents as well, and on Dec. 24, the family left with four large duffel bags full of blankets, hats, clothing, and accessories for the babies.
Drover and her mom, Stephanie, delivered the gifts and had a personal tour from hospital director Dr. Jose Avila Santana.
“It was great to have that personal aspect of the work and to meet the patients and see how they appreciated the gifts for the children," she said.
Drover says more clothing will soon be on the way, thanks to a friend who is going to the Dominican Republic later this year. She also has plans to work with Karina Manzana, a New Jersey resident who is originally from the Dominican Republic. Manzana takes part in initiatives that help her native country.
Drover says she has heard from the hospital on several occasions since returning home and says the experience was wonderful for her and her family.
“It was better than I imagined, a very fulfilling project, I hope to return," she added.