The start of a new year always brings change, and that is certainly true for our The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital as we enter our busiest season of the year.  We certainly see changes in the types of illnesses that winter brings as children spend more time indoors. Despite our attempts at encouraging good hand washing, coughing into our sleeves rather than our hands, and reducing exposure of children to environmental tobacco smoke, germs still spread   As a result, we end up seeing lots of children in January with cold and flu symptoms. Some of the more severe cases involving germs such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and pertussis, sometimes requiring emergency  hospitalization.  Then there are the changes in the types of injuries we see, including ski and other winter sport injuries keeping not just pediatricians busy, but our orthopedic colleagues as well.

With the changes in illnesses and increases in patients being seen, we need to be ready to provide each child with whatever it takes to make them feel better, and that is where the biggest change of all occurs: the Big Change Roundup for 2013!  Without the funds raised through this heroic fundraising and friend-raising effort, we could not begin to provide the programs, equipment, and child-friendly family-centered care that makes our children’s hospital so special.  If you are not familiar with what the Big Change Roundup is all about, you must be new to the area since it is something our entire community joins together to participate in.

What is the Big Change Roundup?  It’s when our friends at WOKO (98.9 FM) join with our community partners including Wal-Mart, Maplefields, New England Federal Credit Union, Pete’s RV and numerous schools and scouting troops to collect spare change for our children’s hospital.  Last year, thousands of people participated and the results totaled more than $225,000 –that’s a lot of spare change!

It’s such a simple premise, and yet every penny, nickel, and dime raised stays right here at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital to do everything from save lives to put smiles on children’s faces.  There’s not a child I see in the inpatient or outpatient setting at our hospital that does not benefit in some way from the funds we raise through the Big Change Roundup.

How Can You Help?

If you want to sign up and become a “Change Bandit” to help organize some change fundraising in your unit, or outside the hospital in your community, it’s simple.  Just go to the Big Change Roundup website (bigchangeroundup.org) and sign up online.

We’ll be collecting change the weekend of March 8-11 in Ticonderoga, Plattsburgh, Williston, and finally finishing in the lobby of the Ambulatory Care Center at the UVM Medical Center’s Medical Center Campus on March 11, when we hope to see the biggest showing yet from every area and every campus of the UVM Medical Center.

We hope you will join us in this time of change to change the life of a child “one dime at a time.”  I can’t think of a better way for all of us to be “First with Kids” than by participating in what I hope will be this year’s biggest Big Change Roundup ever!

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WPTZ Channel 5. Visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.uvmhealth.org/firstwithkids.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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