Of course, the visit looked a little different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. For the past 19 years, Tustin Police Department employees have made sure the patients at Foothill Regional Medical Center received presents and holiday cheer. In the past, the Community Relations Unit, along with Santa, would personally drop off gifts to every patient in the hospital ward. This year presented some challenges. Tustin police personnel were unable to make their traditional rounds with Santa Claus in person to deliver gifts to the children in their rooms.
Instead, they dropped off the gifts to a hospital clinician, enough for 24 patients in the pediatric sub-acute unit, along with a light-up holiday figurine and needed supplies, including Febreze and fragrance-free shampoos and lotions.
“It was quite a change from the previous years, but we are so happy we were still able to give to the children,” said Sgt. Sarah Fetterling of the Community Resources Unit. “We’re so sad that we couldn’t bring the kids Santa to visit this year, but we are very appreciative that we were still able to bring them gifts.”
Tustin Police Department personnel also dropped off a basket for the nurses in the unit, which contained goodies such as Ghirardelli chocolate, hot coco, and Hershey’s kisses.
“The nurses are the true heroes here and we wanted them to know we appreciate them too,” Fetterling said.
Some of the patients suffered a traumatic brain injury stemming from an accident and others were born with a brain disorder.
All need full-time medical care.
Holiday gift donations are typically made based on a wish list with the child’s name, age, and needs.
“It’s important to us, as the Community Relations Unit and the Tustin Police Department, to let these children know that we care deeply for them and that they are not forgotten,” said Police Services Officer Jennifer Dlugitch of the Community Relations Unit. “They are members of our community, and we take every opportunity we get to lend our hands and our hearts, especially during the holidays.”