Santa and his elves recently distributed Christmas gifts to the residents of the Community Living Center (CLC) at the Salisbury VA Medical Center. Veterans quickly got into the holiday spirit as presents were delivered.
Recreation Therapist Brittany Plummer, who was one of the elves, rode the CLC hallways in a make-shift sleigh with loads of gift bags donated by local agencies.
“We came up with the idea and a generous donor bought us a carboard Christmas sleigh,” said Plummer. “We taped it onto one of our scooters and off we went.”
This tradition truly is a team effort, with CLC staff, social workers, recreation therapists, and Voluntary Service all having a hand in making it a success.
“Due to COVID, the agencies that put the gift bags together could not distribute them in person, but we still tried to make it exciting for our Veterans,” said Plummer.
CLC staff got as much out of the gift giving as the Veterans.
“We have great passion for our Veterans, especially around the holidays,” said Plummer. “Getting to see the Veterans smile as Santa came around the corner saying ‘ho, ho, ho’ and us being able to give them a gift … it just meant the world to us.”
The past two years have been especially challenging for CLC Veterans due to COVID. Being able to do small things that make a Veteran smile is something CLC staff prioritizes.
“These types of activities are extremely important to our Veterans and their quality of life,” said Lauren Crotts, chief nurse of Geriatric and Extended Care. “Being able to do this makes it feel more like a normal time. Our Veterans really look forward to these events.”
For Plummer, who as a recreation therapist is always looking for ways to interact with CLC Veterans, an activity like this touches her on a personal level.
“I just try to do what I would hope someone would do for my family if they were here under these circumstances,” she said. “We try to think outside the box and give them something to look forward to over the holidays. Being able to do small gestures like this makes my job even more wonderful than it already is.”
Salisbury VA Health Care System Director Joseph Vaughn recognizes the importance of interacting with Veteran inpatients and praised CLC staff for keeping them engaged.
“I can’t say enough about the work of all involved, who plan and coordinate events to connect with our CLC residents,” he said. “They do so much work behind the scenes to try and ensure our Veterans have the best experience possible. These past two years have been a challenge, but our CLC staff always tries to make our Veterans feel special.”