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Santa and his workshop return in person to Mary Bridge

Santa and his elves — very busy Child Life Specialists and volunteers — brought holiday magic to patients and their siblings at Mary Bridge Children’s last week.

By Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Network

“This is the most magical time of the year at Mary Bridge,” says Julie Hertzog, child life supervisor. “It’s incredible to see our community’s generosity, especially when we lay out all the toys and games. These donations help Child Life to normalize the hospital environment for kids and families by providing an opportunity to experience what may happen if a child was at home during the holidays.”

The Mary Bridge Children’s child life team organized an estimated 10,000 toys and games donated from the community. Every type of toy or game imaginable — from Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels to Bluey and Star Wars character toys — were put on display the week before Christmas, transforming the Mary Bridge Brigade rooms into a toy store.

Hospital volunteers, decked out in holiday light necklaces, Santa hats and ugly Christmas sweaters, “shopped” for each patient and their siblings with wish lists collected from families in the hospital.

In addition to customizing by age, gender and special interest, each wish list had space for parents/caregivers to specify needs or special accommodations, including developmental delays or suggestions for toys that help with their child’s treatment and therapy goals.

At Santa’s Workshop, every child that is admitted receives at least three toys or games, and many were also gifted with stocking stuffers, craft kits and coloring books. Some kids wished for soccer balls and Disney Princess toys, while others wished for — and received — bicycles (with helmets), gaming equipment and even pool tables.

Thank you to all who donated to Santa’s Workshop this year and helped bring holiday magic to kids and families at Mary Bridge Children’s!