Employees step up to give over 500 holiday gifts to those in need
“We have been very good this year” jokes Kelly Colby when people walk into the Development Office to see a sea of Christmas presents covering every square inch of space, rising at least 3 feet tall. Actually, the gifts are destined to local families in need, and the secret shopping elves are Nathan Littauer employees. The “Gingerbread Project”, born out of Nathan Littauer Hospital has been providing gifts to local children since 1994. This year the hospital took on more children- helping 55 local children. “We knew this was going to be a hard year for people, stated Ms. Colby, a Development Coordinator at the hospital who heads up the Gingerbread Project at Littauer. “And we are so moved by the EXTRA generosity of our employees this year.” She added, “Our team understands that local families are hurting this year and wanted to make sure kids still had a happy Christmas. It makes me so proud to be a Littauer employee.”
The Gingerbread Project coordinates efforts through Fulmont Community Action Agency. Denis Wilson Executive Director of Fulmont Community Action Agency stated, “Once again this year the employees of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home came through to assist our agency in helping the less fortunate in our communities. The efforts of NLH show the level of commitment that they have to helping the community. These employees have brightened the holidays for many who would otherwise go without.”
Named the Gingerbread Project after the gingerbread cut outs that hang outside the cafeteria, the initiative is totally voluntary. Employees each choose a name and shop for a local child in need. Kelly notes, “Many times there are crowds around the gingerbread cutouts as employees gather to choose names and to discuss their plans.” Employees will frequently send notes to Kelly thanking her for the opportunity to give to others and explaining how much they look forward to the program.
The program is a completely anonymous. Recipients of the gifts are never known and the names of the givers are not provided. Kelly explained, “We get to be Santa to a child we do not know, but we do know our efforts brighten their Christmas as well as our own.”
“Whether it is giving to our hospital or to the community, our employees step up top the plate.” stated Susan Kiernan Vice President of Development. She added, “This year was an extraordinary year for employee generosity”. Hospital employees raised money for the hospital Foundation, raised money through the Kozy Coat program to buy outerwear for children and donated 110 cleaned, gently-worn coats to children in the area, helped people who were impacted by the floods and also cleaned local roads in their adopt-a-highway program. During the holidays, hospital employees also adopt all 84 nursing home residents. That way every resident gets a gift on Christmas morning.
And people seem to notice. From time to time, past family recipients of the Gingerbread Project have written notes and letters to the hospital. One mother who received gifts from the Gingerbread Project wrote, “Thank you so much for helping to make Christmas something wonderful again for my son and I. This was a long hard year for my son and I but (the next year) is looking bright.” Another wrote, “Thanks for putting happy faces on my two kids. Thank you for everything. You really make a difference in their lives.”
Most of the gifts were picked up today from the hospital bound for families. The agency needs a truck to pick up all the gifts. Ms. Colby reflects, “Every year the generosity of the Littauer employees amazes me. It just goes to show – at Littauer we not only give great care… we also care greatly….”