Many organizations do a wide variety of charitable acts for children in hospitals. In California, a Los Angeles Police Department SWAT helicopter will fly through the sky to deliver Santa Claus to a holiday party for kids at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children. After the helicopter lands, Santa will get out and enter a tank-like LAPD armored vehicle, and a SWAT convoy escorts him to a party that has games, toys and food for patients and visitors. In Milwaukee, the staff at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin throw a winter carnival for patients. Members of the Milwaukee Ballet will be on hand, along with therapy dogs dressed as reindeer. Officials at children's hospitals are using a wide range of strategies to make the holiday season time as enjoyable as possible for the young patients and their families. The approaches range from Santa appearing in a helicopter to Saint Nick talking to young patients on Skype. These innovative programs bring enjoyment to a medical experience that is typically pretty dismal. Hospital staff units and area philanthropic groups also adopt entire families that have a child at the hospital and provide gift cards for food and clothes.
The hospitals are aware of the fact that some children are too ill to leave their rooms, so nurses in the hematology/oncology unit at Rady Children’s in San Diego deliver gifts to the door of young patients battling different types of cancer. The nurses at the hospitals really get to know these kids and collect wish lists from them in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
At the Orthopaedic Institute for Children, Santa arrives at the hospital grounds in a tank-like armored car, then he and some elves distribute donated toys, and each child gets two or three gifts. Sadly, for some of the kids, those toys will be their only holiday gifts; about 85 percent of the patients at Orthopaedic Institute, which includes an urgent care center and a hemophilia treatment center, are from low income family. These surprises can really make a child’s day- and year. Hopefully this tradition will continue and we can all try to find ways to contribute.