Santa might rely on Donner and Blitzen to help him distribute holiday gifts, but this year at the VA Maryland Health Care System, staff from Voluntary Service, a handful of volunteers, and a sole elf named Tim helped by delivering gifts to Veteran inpatients.
In recognition of the holiday season, hospitalized Veterans across the health care system’s three inpatient facilities received a special gift package worth $70 each. About 50 Veterans at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, 65 at the Loch Raven VA Medical Center, and 165 to Veterans at the Perry Point VA Medical Center each received a gift.
“For those in the hospital during the holidays, receiving a holiday gift can be uplifting,” said Susan Kern, program manager for Voluntary Service which oversees the annual holiday gift distribution. “It allows our community members to continue to honor our Veteran inpatients and certainly reminds our Veterans they are not forgotten during the holidays, especially during this trying time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Each year, Veterans Service Organizations and local organizations make monetary donations so items can be purchased for the packages. Voluntary Service staff use these funds and select items to be placed in the bags. “The Veterans really brighten up when they look in the bags and see their gifts. After all, who doesn’t enjoy getting a gift especially for the holidays?” Kern asked.
This year’s gift package nestled into green cloth bags included a clock; an electric shaver for men and a sleigh-shaped spa product gift package for women; a fleece blanket; a stress reliever game; and a cap with the word “VETERAN” on it. A major project in terms of labor and dollars, the Patient Holiday Gift Program reaches more than 300 hospitalized Veterans throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System every holiday season.