WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Christmas came early to some children in the North Country on Tuesday.
Santa Claus himself made a special visit to Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, to bring holiday cheer to patients at the Car-Freshner Center for Women and Children.
Specifically in the pediatric and neonatal intensive care units.
According to Angela VanWormer, the director of the Children’s Miracle Network of Northern New York, the event was organized to help families who may be spending the holidays in the hospital.
“Families are struggling,” VanWormer said. “And so when you’re in the hospital, and it’s Christmas time, it’s just a nice thing to have Santa and feel a little bit of that happiness you might be missing.”
Santa and his “partner in crime,” the Grinch, surprised patients, families and the staff at Samaritan Medical Center. This was after the duo was escorted to the hospital, past students at Sherman Elementary school on a City of Watertown Fire Truck.
Smiles broke out immediately on the faces of Samaritan staff members, as they said this visit brought joy to everyone.
Taylor Dirks is a Pediatric Registered Nurse at the facility, who helped Santa give one of her patients an early Christmas present
“It’s the Christmas season, and it’s the time of giving,” Dirks shared. “So being able to see Santa come in and experience that too, it’s just really fun.”
Although Santa and the Grinch delivered toys, the hundreds of gifts were all community donations. This included donations from the Watertown Fire Department, a fourth-grade classroom at the Indian River Central School District and several others.
SMC Director of Women’s and Children’s Courtney Emmerich explained that this will help the hospital give to children through the end of 2023.
“They’ve all graciously donated a lot of presents that we’re able to give the kids,” Emmerich said. “We’ll be able to give gifts to just about every patient.”
Santa was also impressed by the effort and said this was a true testament to what community is all about.
“True holiday spirit is giving,” he said. “We’re starting to see a lot more of that, especially in the North Country as far as trying to take care of our neighbors, friends and family. So this is just a drop in the bucket of what’s going on out there.”
To learn more about the Center for Women and Children, visit the Samaritan Medical Center website.