WEST COLUMBIA — “Operation Santa Claus” is well underway at Lakin Hospital, but the public’s help is needed to make a joyous Christmas for those who are sometimes forgotten.
The holiday program affords local residents the opportunity to provide gifts or Christmas services to the patients at the hospital. The services can be anything from helping to wrap the donated gifts, to groups singing Christmas carols or presenting short programs.
Donations up to this point have been fewer than in years past, according to Opal Sims of the activities department. There also aren’t as many groups registered to sing or perform.
Sims said normally the community is very generous in supporting the patients. She said in the abundant years, there have been enough monetary donations to keep the holiday going throughout the year for the patients. The gifts donated are all given out at Christmas, Sims said, but if enough items are donated, the money is used to take residents on outings, including the fair, bowling, movies, flea markets, out to eat, or for ice cream.
The hospital has a census of around 90 residents at the present time, according to Sims. The population is fairly distributed between males and females.
Several dates remain open for groups and organizations to come and entertain the patients. Groups can come at either 1:30 or 6:30 p.m., and stand in the center of the hospital or stroll up and down the units.
Anyone wishing to volunteer to wrap gifts can do so between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Sims said. Although it is preferred that all donations and wrapping be completed by Dec. 18, in reality it will be more like Dec. 21, she added.
The options of needed and wanted items are many. Sims said the most requested items are sweat clothes, colored pencils, coloring books, word search books, and moisturizing body wash. She added the body wash is needed because the residents’ skin becomes dry in the winter due to the indoor heat, plus the their ages.
A complete list of suggested gift items include:
Women – Dresses (pullover and open back); button-up sweaters; sweat pants and shirts; gowns and open back gowns; knee socks, anklets and footies; cosmetics; nail polish; perfume/cologne; bath powder; inexpensive jewelry; watches (wrist and pendant); jewelry boxes; purses; change purses; and wallets.
Men – Sport, pullover and flannel shirts; button-up sweaters; sweat shirts and pants; jeans (size 38 waist and larger); elastic waist pants; pajamas; socks; t-shirts; briefs and boxer shorts; belts and suspenders; after-shave and pre-shave lotions; and watches (wrist and pocket).
Miscellaneous – Hats and caps; gloves and mittens; handkerchiefs and bandanas; hand and body lotions; stationery; music boxes; musical toys; body pillows; puzzle books, word search (large print), coloring books, crayons, colored pencils; handheld games; cans of regular, diet, and caffeine free soda; puzzles; calendars; pictures and posters; sun catchers; washable dolls; sunglasses; shampoo and conditioner; music CDs and players; picture albums; chewing gum, regular and sugar-free candy and cookies; body wash; and DVD movies.
All gift items should be donated unwrapped.
For more information, to schedule an event, or to volunteer to wrap gifts, contact the activities department at 304-675-0860, extension 135. Calls will be taken Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.