“Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!” Those were the words that rang out as Santa entered a room filled with dozens of MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach patients eagerly awaiting his arrival. But this wasn’t just any room, it was a giant auditorium that had been transformed into Santa’s Workshop.
Recognizing that many children in the hospital miss out on traditional holiday activities, the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program at Miller Children’s & Women’s rallies the support of the community to bring holiday cheer to them. Santa’s Workshop is made possible by sponsor Turner Construction and dozens of local organizations who volunteer to make the holiday magic happen.
“We are expected to be brave, but to be here and see the children and their families keep going, that’s the real bravery,” says Melvin McGuire, Department Commander, Long Beach Police Department. “We take every opportunity to support our community, especially when they are going through tough times. We are always here for them.”
As patients made their way around the room, they encountered gingerbread men from Rossmoor Pastries, sea-themed holiday crafts with the Aquarium of the Pacific, face painting and so much more. In one corner, patients could even pick out and wrap gifts for their friends and family with help from the Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach Auxiliary, the volunteer group who runs the hospital’s gift shop.
Virna Alcantara, whose son Fernando is a patient at Miller Children’s & Women’s, thought Santa’s Workshop was a hit. “It’s awesome that they do this for the kids,” says Alcantara. “It really means a lot to the families. Fernando was so excited to give a few gifts to his cousins and his puppy.”
The Child Life Program at Miller Children’s & Women’s coordinates events like Santa’s Workshop to make the hospital experience more positive for children of all ages.
“We know that hospitalization can be stressful and scary for kids, especially during the holidays,” says Rita Goshert, manager, Child Life Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “This event gives our patients a break from their medical treatments and a chance to focus on just being a kid.”
To learn more about ways to support patients and families at Miller Children’s & Women’s this holiday season, visit millerchildrens.org/WishList.
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