July 17th, 2024

Volunteers bring cheer to CRH patients

By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 22, 2023.

Herald photo by Theodora Macleod Sammie, a one-year-old retriever visits with staff from Chinook Regional Hospital as part of a staff wellness event last week. Sammie will be part of a group of pet volunteers making the rounds with Christmas cheer.

It’s been said many times, many ways: there’s no place like home for the holidays. But for those undergoing care in hospitals, being home isn’t always a possibility. Fortunately, for patients at the Chinook Regional Hospital, volunteers have been hard at work putting together a little Christmas cheer.

Earlier in December, volunteers from Friends of Chinook Regional Hospital, Volunteer Resource, and throughout the community gathered to create 650 stockings stuffed with goodies for Operation Christmas Stocking. Comprised mainly of comfort and self-care items. Over 600 of the handcrafted stockings were made by members of the Lethbridge Centennial Quilters Guild.

Operation Christmas Stocking began at the Lethbridge Municipal Hospital and has been taking place for close to 50 years. Though COVID put a damper on the past few years and limited the volunteer groups, this year they were back together for a stocking stuffing event.

“The volunteers love it,” says Hailey Stuckart, Coordinator of Volunteer Resources with Chinook Regional Hospital.

While patients who were well enough to spend Christmas Day at home received their stockings early, those who are spending Christmas at the hospital will get an extra dose of cheer on Christmas even when Santa’s helpers come sharing carols and good will.

“This year senior leadership wanted to come,” explains Stuckart, adding they hoped to “create some sort of connection with the staff that are working Christmas Eve. So some of them are coming with some family to carol.” Among the carollers this year are C.O.O Colin Zieber, and Zone Medical Director, Dr. David Stewart, along with more than a dozen volunteers.

Though a visit from hospital administration is a delight on its own, surely the real stars of the show will be the pet volunteers. The trio of Golden Retrievers, Halia, Sammie, and Ike will be making their rounds with well wishes and wagging tails.

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