Donna Binning is a school nurse from a small Iowa town who reached out to me on The Relentless School Nurse Facebook page to share her story about providing water bottles for her students. I was so inspired by her dedication to her school community and the uplifting story of how she managed to receive 500 water bottle donations, I knew it would make a wonderful blog post. Sometimes, the smallest things we do, become the most important. Donna is an exemplar of how one school nurse can impact an entire community. We are, afterall the Chief Wellness Officers of our schools!
I want to share something wonderful with you. I’m a school nurse in a small school in rural southern Iowa. I started writing to companies last summer asking for them to donate 350 water bottles so the students and staff at my school could have access to water all day. I explained a few of the health benefits of water and that we have water bottle filling stations in our buildings, but most of our students do not have bottles to fill, nor do (most) of their parents have the money to buy them. I kept getting told basically “great idea, but nope”.
One day in December I was having one of those mornings where everything you try to do goes wrong. Coffee pot over flows, hair tie breaks, etc. So I posted in a Facebook group I’m in where people encourage each other. I said basically I was sad because I really just wanted to give my students and co-workers some water bottles, and the night before I had watched Ellen’s big give away and if I had her money I would get water bottles for them. Well someone in the group asked if I had a “Go Fund Me”? I said “No, they are just water bottles”. So she asked if I had an Amazon wishlist. Again I said no. She said if I did she would donate water bottles to my students. So I thought “Why not?”. So I put together a wishlist.
Within 3 weeks I had almost 500 water bottles at my house. Almost all of them were from total strangers! I had a lady from Germany and a lady from Ireland send me money via PayPal so I could purchase them! It was truly a Christmas miracle!
I did 2 assemblies, 1 at the Jr/Sr High building and one at the elementary. I explained to the students about the importance of water for health, why it’s important to stay hydrated. I also discussed acts of kindness and explained how the bottles got to the school. It was the best experience of my nursing career! I have never felt so blessed!! The kindness of strangers is so incredible Often times being a school nurse I feel alone. Teachers have each other for support. I’m the only nurse covering both buildings in our district. It was amazing to have the support of so many people that are my virtual friends.
When I did the elementary assembly I had 2 pictures of flowers that I had colored. One flower was beautiful with color. One was wilted and dying. I asked the kids what flowers need to live. They told me “soil, sun and water”. I asked the kids if I could water the beautiful flower with Mtn. Dew? They told me “No!”. I asked if I could water it with chocolate milk? They told me “no!” I asked about Sports Drinks? They told me “no!” I asked them what would happen to the flower. They told me it would die. I showed them the picture of the wilted flower. I said “like this?” They said “yes” I asked them if that brown wilted flower looked healthy? They said “no!”. So then I went on to explain how when we drink water our skin and hair looks so beautiful and healthy. I also explained how those other drinks have sugar and other stuff in them that stops the water from doing what it needs to do in our bodies.
I explained how our bodies are made up mostly of water and we need to stay hydrated to stay healthy. I also talked about acts of kindness and then asked them what acts of kindness they have done and can do. I talked about how they don’t have to cost anything. We can simply pick up a piece of trash or write someone a thank you note. We can sit with someone that we usually wouldn’t sit with. We can help the teacher clean up the classroom or hold a door open for someone. The kids at Mormon Trail are great kids. We have a food pantry at school. Every month the 5th and 6th graders help me unload the food truck and carry the food upstairs and help put it away! That’s a lot of work! I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them. I am truly a blessed school nurse
Donna Binning Bio: I have been an RN since 2012. I have worked in a Medical Clinic, and Public Health. This is my first year as a school nurse. I am the first full time school nurse Mormon Trail Community School District has ever had. I have absolutely fallen in love with school nursing and I want to do anything and everything I can for these children. Our school is full of the most polite, wonderful, loving, caring, children, with the biggest hearts you will ever meet. The staff is incredible as well.
When I’m not at work I’m at home on the farm with my husband, Anthony and my 10 goats. I have 2 adult children, Jessica and Carter, and 1 adorable 2 year old grandson Colson.