The gift boxes are colorful and cheery. They hold new clothes, toys and everyday necessities.
They’re for families — small children, teens and their parents — who are going through a rough patch. Some of the families are currently homeless.
The gifts come from 150 hospital employees from Providence Tarzana Medical Center who personally contribute to adopt families who have a student currently attending Reseda High School.
Gifts are given to the whole family, including parents and siblings, and this year, the gift giving has extended to add some seniors from the nonprofit organization, ONEGeneration.
The Tarzana Medical staff understands that not everyone is in a position to have an idyllic Christmas and the holiday can be a time of great stress for parents who might have to explain to their children that there is no Santa Claus. The holidays can also be an especially lonely time for seniors.
While they provide care for patients, they see people from every walk of life and observe firsthand that while many people are scurrying to the mall to buy presents for their loved ones, there are many others who struggle each day for the bare essentials and have no means to offer gifts.
So, for the past two decades the staff from each hospital department contributes and goes shopping for people they’ve never met.
The nurses who take your blood pressure and check your medications, the doctors who diagnose you, the technicians who take x-rays become Santa’s helpers this time of the year.
They aren’t given names or addresses. The only information they are given are the ages of all the family members, and a wish list.
“Adopt a Senior” Program
The new program works the same way as gift giving to families. The name of recipient is anonymous and all the donors know is that he may be a man of 70-years-old or a woman over 80.
They may get whatever they listed on their wish list — a warm sweater or diabetic shoes. The idea is that they also have needs that must be met.
Gifts Sent With A Blessing
The gifts not only carry material items, they also carry the best wishes and blessings from those who gave.
Representatives from the high school including Sheri Wiley, whose mother helped develop the program, attended a “blessing of the gifts,” and helped to pack them into trucks for delivery.
A prayer of thanksgiving was given to all the caregivers who opened their wallets and hearts to participate.
“This event celebrates our efforts to live in a true spirit of Mother Joseph, one of our founders, who said that ‘whatever concerns the poor is always our affair,’” said Shawn T. Kiley, director of Mission Leadership at Providence Tarzana Medical Center.
“Working with ONEGeneration and Reseda High school, we are able help meet the needs and make the holidays brighter for families and seniors in our community.”
In the end the goal is for those, no matter how young or old, to get something under the Christmas tree.
The mission of the health facility, said Kiley, is to go “beyond the walls of our hospital to the community we serve.”
Diana Martinez contributed to this article.