Beginning in 2006, Emerald spent many hours at St. Francis delivering Christmas cheer to the adult patients who could not go home to be with their families on Christmas day. Three years go she expanded to visiting assisted living centers and a veterans care facility. In recent years, she has had a number of friends volunteer to help, as well. Most of these patients and residents are there for long term care and do not have any family that come to visit them. Many of their rooms do not have any decorations to celebrate the season. Volunteers give them each a card, a room decoration, hug them, hold their hands, sing to them, and let them know that someone cares about them simply by spending time with them.
Please help keep this dream alive by donating new or gently used Stuffed Animals, Christmas Decorations
These are usually 3-9 inches tall and can be purchased at Dollar General stores
or financial aid. Personal Care Items Needed: Scented Body Wash, Hypo-Allergenic Body Wash (Aveeno equivalent), and Non-Slip Socks.
When Emerald was 9, her Papa Don spent some time in the hospital, right before Christmas. When she found out that not all patients got to go home for the holidays, she asked who took care of them. The staff told her that many of them only had doctors and nurses to visit them. Em went home and cried for them, but that was not the not the end of the story, it was the beginning...
...and so it began.
She handmade Christmas cards, gathered most of her own stuffed animals, and used her money to purchase some mini stockings and trees. She had me take her back to the hospital and went to every room on the cardiac floor singing and delivering Christmas to the patients there. I thought that was the end. I was wrong.
...it continued on.
In October of the following year, Emerald asked me if she could put a box out to collect stuffed animals for the hospital people. After talking for a very few minutes, I realized that she had been planning this since the previous Christmas. It had not been a one shot deal. Every year since, she has gone to St. Francis and has expanded it to include all the floors. She often brings friends to help her share Jesus with the patients. Each year, there are moments that bring tears to my eyes. I will see a non-responsive patient tighten her hand on the little stuffed animal, a lonely older gentleman request song after song because she is the first visitor he's had in months, a young soldier cry because he has a stocking and tree to help him remember Christmases long ago and far away, orderlies that remember her from previous years, and even a patient who had been hospitalized over Christmas before and remembered her. Christmas miracles abound in Greenville, SC every December 25th!!
...and then it grew.
In 2013, we began visiting several area elder care facilities and a veterans home. We were able to connect with the residents on a more personal level and meet even more individual needs. Many people from Holland Park church and our community join us each year to spread God's love and the message that everyone matters. We plan to continue to grow and reach out to more and more facilities and lonely hearts each and every year.