Cortlandt Manor – Santa’s Helpers at Hudson Valley Hospital Center will spend the afternoon on Dec. 19 wrapping mountains of presents to make wishes come true for local children and their families.
In an annual tradition, at 1 p.m. in the Wagner Conference Room staff will begin wrapping gifts that will be donated to local social services agencies and delivered to families in need. Pajamas and books, dolls, trucks, boots, socks and tons of toys will be packaged in a few short hours. Santa is expected to stop by to supervise the Hospital elves at work.
But before the wrapping can begin, employees are doing some last minute fundraising and shopping, hoping to increase the numbers of gifts that can be donated.
“With Hurricane Sandy, this year has been a very difficult one for many people, making fundraising a bit more of a challenge,’’ John Federspiel, president of Hudson Valley Hospital Center, who started the tradition 17 years ago, said in a press release. “Luckily, we have so many generous people at the Hospital and in the community who have given even larger amounts to help make up the difference. We hope to continue collecting donations and gifts until the very last minute.’’
This year, the hospital plans to spend $125 per child on about 100 children. The Westchester County Department of Social Services provides the Hospital with wish lists from families.
To raise money, the hospital staff sold raffles and employees paid $10 each for the privilege of wearing jeans to work on two Fridays. Employees this year are also doing a special fundraiser. On sale during the month of December in the Hospital Gift Shop will be “The Giving Keys” necklaces. “The Giving Keys” is an organization which employs those transitioning out of homelessness to engrave recycled keys that get sold and shared around the world. Each key necklace is unique and carries a message like hope, strength, dream or courage. When the wearer of the key encounters someone else who needs the message on the key, they give it away and then are encouraged to tell their stories on the group’s website. The keys were purchased by the hospital and the New York Plastic Surgery Group and are being sold at the gift shop and to employees at the hospital. Those interested in finding out more about “The Giving Keys” can call 914-734-3794 or visit www.thegivingkeys.com.
Sue Lepore, facilitator of the program in the administration office at HVHC, has the job of sorting through letters containing the wish lists of needy children and their families. She then assigns gift shopping to Hospital employees who spend an entire afternoon wrapping the gifts at a festive wrapping party. Many times families and social service workers stop by during the afternoon to pick up the gifts.
“We hope that people in the community will help us to support this very worthy project,’’ she said. “These children ask for so little. We try to make this a great holiday by giving them more than they request.’’
Hudson Valley Hospital Center is at 1980 Crompond Road (Route 202).
2011 Santa’s Helpers gift wrapping party. Hospital President John Federspiel and Wound care Coordinator Eileen Donatelli wrap gifts at last year’s party.