With Santa Claus leading the charge, uniformed personnel from the Tustin Police Department pulled wagons filled with gifts through the festively decorated hallways and into patients’ rooms at the Foothill Regional Medical Center in Tustin.
Santa and his Tustin PD helpers made their annual holiday visit to the center on Dec. 6, giving gifts to 30 brain-injured children and young adults.
Some of the patients had suffered a traumatic brain injury stemming from an accident and others were born with a brain disorder.
All need full-time medical care.
“It’s a very positive feeling but at the same time, when you see these kids, it’s sad,” said Police Services Officer Marilyn Packer, who helps organize the event. “We hope we can bring them a little bit of happiness. We’ve been doing this for many years and hopefully, we’ll be able to continue to do this.”
The gifts, which include clothing, plush animals, tactile toys, electronics, Christmas lights, and toiletries, are donated by police department and city employees.
Donations are made based on a wish list with the child’s name, age, and needs.
“The employees of the City of Tustin have big hearts and a lot of them specifically choose the hospital kids,” police services officer Adriana Tokar said.
Medical center CEO Araceli Lonergan said the staff appreciates the annual visit as much as the patients.
“These kids become (our) family,” Lonergan said. “It’s nice that this is being done by the police department because they are part of the community and we want to be part of their community too.”