October 21st, 2020

Operation Christmas Stocking will bring cheer to those in hospital


By Kalinowski, Tim on December 20, 2019.

Volunteers Stephanie Stock, Laurie and Victor Colussi, and Bobbi Harvey, help stuff items as part of Operation Christmas Stocking Thursday morning at Chinook Regional Hospital. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

Operation Christmas Stocking is ready to play Santa Claus for patients stuck in the hospital over the holidays.

“It’s a longstanding tradition here at Chinook Regional Hospital that was initially started by nursing staff when they saw people were here over Christmas, and they wanted to brighten their days,” explains hospital volunteer resources co-ordinator Filomena Laporte-Packer. “When patients wake up on Christmas morning, Santa Claus came and they’ve got a great stocking full of goodies.”

The stocking contains various items from toys and games, to toiletries, snacks and other heart-warming items, including letters from local school students. The letters help spread a message of Christmas warmth and comfort, and have been known to bring patients to tears, says Laporte-Packer.

“It’s a wonderful spirit of kindness and goodness,” she explains.

None of it would be possible without the dedication of a team of 150 volunteers who knit the hand-made Christmas stockings, help fill them and eventually distribute them to patients on Christmas Eve.

“It’s an amazing volunteer effort,” Laporte-Packer states. “We asked for 647 stockings, which was a big ask this year. That’s 150 more than we normally do, but they came to the table and I have over a 1,000 stockings. It’s a tradition where they come in and serve others. Volunteer-wise there’s probably 12 people helping stuff the stockings today.”

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