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Having Fun While Making a Difference

The MerryMixers are a vital source of support for pediatric care.

Don’t be fooled by the laughter and good cheer that abound when the Merry Mixers host a fundraising event, this charity organization takes its mission to raise money for pediatric programs at North Shore Medical Center very seriously. What started with a donation of $50 in 1950 when the group was founded has grown to more than $900,000 in donations in the past 20 years alone.

Having fun while making a difference has always been central to the Merry Mixers’ philosophy, first put forth by the all-volunteer committee more than 60 years ago. Through the decades, the Merry Mixers have provided significant support for pediatric programs and equipment at NSMC, from cardiac monitoring equipment to jaundice meters to IV pumps and isolettes.

“Many of us have had firsthand experience with NSMC’s pediatric services,” says Amy Weed, co-chair of the group and Marblehead mother of two boys aged 9 and 11. “We rely on NSMC to care for our children, and the hospital should be able to count on us in return.”

In 2013, the Merry Mixers launched its most ambitious fundraising challenge yet: to raise $200,000 in three years toward a $2 million expansion and renovation of NSMC’s Special Care Nursery and updates to the inpatient pediatric unit at MassGeneral for Children at NSMC. The updates—which will more than quadruple the size of the Special Care Nursery to better accommodate the care of high-risk infants and create a more spacious, private and peaceful environment for children and their families—will be completed this winter.

NSMC is the primary source for pediatric care on the North Shore, including the region’s only 24-hour pediatric emergency department. For the Merry Mixers, whose 12 members commit to three-year terms, ensuring access to this care is what drives them to raise funds.

The Merry Mixers host several fundraising events throughout the year, including a 50/50 raffle at holiday time and an annual spring gala. The latter, which draws several hundred guests and features live music and an auction, has become a highlight of the North Shore social calendar. This year’s event, held at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, raised $52,000 for pediatric care at NSMC.

The Merry Mixers’ connection to the community is a key to their success, says co-chair Aileen Sheehan, whose mother was a nurse in the NSMC Salem Hospital emergency department. Even still, the Marblehead mom of a four-year-old daughter and a son born in August says she’s humbled by the outpouring of support for the committee’s efforts. “When it comes to the care of our children, it is so important to support world-class care and facilities for all families on the North Shore,” says Sheehan.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Merry Mixers for their commitment to our work,” says Sanjay Aurora, M.D., NSMC’s Chief of Newborn Medicine. “Year after year, their energy, skills and good will help make it possible for us to care for some of the most fragile members of our community.”

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