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'The Balloon Lady' Lifts Spirits For Jefferson Hospital's Change For Change Program

JEFFERSON HILLS (KDKDA) -- For many who are hospitalized, a lack of visitors and family can impact their healing and well-being.

One local hospital decided it was time for a change.

Meet Sandy Anderson, "The Balloon Lady" at Allegheny Health Network's Jefferson Hospital.

She stops by hospital rooms every Wednesday to hand out balloons.

The gift shop is chock full of balloons ready for her gifts of happiness: whimsical, heartfelt, prayerful and playful varieties.

Sandy isn't a visitor with deep pockets, nor gift shop employee. She does work in the hospital's dietary department.

"Sandy was hearing about these patients that were lonely and were not getting a lot of visitors, and she got this idea," said Kelly Kassab, vice president of operations at Allegheny Health Network. "Nobody should feel like they're forgotten. No one should feel like they're left out. No one should feel unwanted."

And Change for Change was born, simply meaning: "Your loose change can make a change."

Donation buckets painted with balloons were placed around the hospital.

An employee-driven program allowed Sandy and Allegheny Health Network to navigate HIPA rules and hospital regulations to do the important job of spreading joy.

"I love being the balloon lady," Anderson said. "You hope it's going to take off, but I never imagined it would take off."

Soon Sandy had so many patients visits and balloons to buy that hospital administration matched the donations so she could buy more.

She met with Matt on the cardiac floor on Wednesday.

"Nobody wants to be in a hospital, but that helps," said Matt.

Anderson also met with Janice.

"I love it, thank you," Janice said. "I never had this happen to me before. It's so nice. It makes me very happy."

Sandy said most of the patients she delivers balloons to are older and may have family that's busy or far away.

"That a simple balloon could touch someone that much, I don't have words for it," Anderson said.

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