WEST COLUMBIA — Even though Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, “Operation Santa Claus” is already in full swing at Lakin Hospital.
The holiday program affords local residents the opportunity to provide gifts, or Christmas services to patients at the hospital. Services can be anything from helping wrap the donated gifts in colorful holiday paper, to singing Christmas carols or presenting short programs.
“We have a lot of community participation,” said Darlene Ash, hospital activities supervisor. “We’ve already started getting donations of clothing, and groups are starting to schedule for caroling and wrapping.”
Ash said the hospital normally has a census of around 95 residents, with the population being fairly distributed between males and females.
“We have many residents from the northern panhandle (of West Virginia), and if they have any family, they can’t visit a lot,” Ash said. “They depend on the community for a good holiday.”
There are also wards of the state who reside at the hospital and have no family to visit. Ash said the community always comes through and in the end, the residents are well taken care of at Christmas time.
Several dates remain open for groups and organizations to come in and entertain residents. Groups usually come after dinner, around 6:30 p.m., and either stand in the center of the hospital and sing, or stroll up and down the units.
The options of needed and wanted items for Christmas are many, but Ash said puzzle books, coloring books and crayons, and sweat clothes are extremely popular.
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).
Sizes needed the most for both men and women, according to Ash, are large, extra large, 2XL and 3XL.
Miscellaneous – Hats and caps; gloves and mittens; handkerchiefs and bandanas; hand and body lotions; stationery; music boxes; musical toys; body pillows; puzzle, word search (large print), and coloring books and crayons; 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 diet soft candy and cookies; body wash; and DVD movies.
All gift items should be donated unwrapped. Donations should be made prior to Dec. 5 to ensure time for wrapping and distributing.
For more information, or to schedule an event, contact Ash at 304-675-0860, extension 135, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.