Taking to heart the inspirational phrase that, “It is better to give than to receive,” Baystate Medical Center employees donated thousands of gifts on Dec. 17 as part of the hospital’s 11th annual “Spirit of Giving” toy drive.
Donated toys and gifts included everything from electronics such as an iPod to practical winter clothing and from fun board games to plenty of dolls and “Frozen” themed toys from the popular Disney movie. They were later distributed just in time for Christmas to needy families through the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, New North Citizens’ Council and the Senior Santa Program, and several of the hospital’s community health centers, including Baystate Brightwood Health Center, Baystate Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center, and Baystate High Street Health Center.
A true community celebration, young choir students from Lincoln Elementary School, located across from the hospital on Chestnut Street, serenaded employees sorting gifts with festive holiday songs. After they were finished, Nancy Shendell-Falik, RN, MA, president of Baystate Medical Center and senior vice president for hospital operations, Baystate Health, announced to the young students that a special guest had arrived to see them – Santa Claus.
The jolly ol’ elf greeted the children by telling them they were all on his “good list.” He then thanked Baystate employees for their generosity and for helping “Santa and his elves to make sure that every good little boy and girl find a gift under their Christmas tree on Christmas morning.” The young singers then were told they could select a gift of their own from among the stacks of piled high presents.
“We are always happy to be invited to Baystate Medical Center to sing for the staff during the hospital’s annual toy drive. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our kindergarten students to share several songs and to experience the joy and unconditional love of staff as they deliver and sort the toys and other gifts,” said Sharon Ralls, principal of Lincoln Elementary school.
“These are five- and six-year-old children who have never performed in front of an audience. You could see the excitement in their eyes and their pride in knowing they were successful and supported at the event by their teachers, paraprofessionals, and the school’s administration,” she added.
The special employee toy drive saw some 2,500 toys and gifts collected, including contributions from the Marine Toys for Tots Program.
“Giving, especially to children, is one of the highlights of Christmas and the holidays. Our hospital is surrounded by communities where there are many families in need,” said Jennifer Silvestri, RN, of Patient Care Services at Baystate Medical Center, who donated a bagful of toys to bring smiles on the faces of boys and girls hoping for a present for the holidays.