ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A group of Norhtwest Arkansas high school students recently made a surprise donation to Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas.

According to a news release from the hospital, the gift was delivered to the hospital, but the recipients were the siblings of babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit who are waiting to bring their new brothers and sisters home.

The release says seniors from the Bentonville and Rogers area high schools bought supplies with their own money to create packages filled with activities, games, snacks and drinks — called siblings packs.

The students work as paid interns in the bulk supply unit of the hospital during the academic year got the idea to make the sibling packs after a recent tour of the NICU, according to the release.

As part of an internship offered through a cooperative arrangement between Mercy and the Friendship Community Care’s Pathway to Employment JobPath program, the students visit various units within the hospital in addition to performing their job duties.

“They wanted to do some kind of project to help with the hospital,” said Laura Smith, community employment manager with Friendship Community Care. “The students spoke with the nurses at the NICU, who told the students to talk to the March of Dimes.” 

“I was actually surprised because in years past we’ve had some great kids come through, but we haven’t had anyone step up to this kind of involvement,” said Joshua Austin, supply chain manager at Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas. “Once they got the idea during their tour of the NICU it was all they could talk about.” 

Friendship Community Care, an organization that serves children and adults with disabilities, behavioral health, and complex support needs, asked teachers to hand-select the six high school students to work as interns after school at Mercy.

The students were identified as being at the top of their class and interested in a health care career, according to the release. Each was then interviewed by Mercy before being hired as part of their complete employment experience.