Nurses at the Victoria General Hospital scrapped gifts for each other, for gifts for their patients.
Staff of the post partum floor of VGH swapped their Secret Santa program for a toy drive, dressing up as Santa’s favourite reindeer and doling out the more than 100 toys and $1,000 in gift cards to sick children and families staying there Christmas Day.
“(The children) were so excited, there was one teen who was lying in her bed under the covers but not sleeping,” said organizer Michelle Kataneo. “We handed her gifts… and within two minutes, she came out dressed as an elf and said she wanted to help us out.”
Kataneo, a nurse at the hospital for 19 years, alongside half the other registered nurses working their floor Christmas Day, handed out gifts collected since mid December while the other half stayed back to care of the mothers and their newborns.
“It is such a great place to work, it is such a happy to place to work most of the time. I thought it would be nice to spread a little bit of that to another floor,” Kataneo said.
“I had friends show up at my house with bags of gifts, it was pretty awesome. I know we have an amazing community, it just reinforces how wonderful our community is.”
Donators dropped off gift certificates and bags of toys for two-and-a-half weeks leading up to Christmas to have enough toys for more than 20 youth and gift cards for families that would be spending the night there on Christmas.
She said many parents won’t even leave their children to go for a coffee unless they have a gift card, preferring to save money for their sick children.
“We all walked off the pediatric floor and thought this was the best Christmas ever, we weren’t spending it with family but we were spending it with work family,” Kataneo said. “There are people in there in the worst time of their lives with sick kids and to make it even a little bit better was pretty awesome.”