Now in its 36th year, Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s annual Santa’s Korner Toy Drive serves local families in need who live in East County.
Sharp Grossmont coordinated with various organizations, as well has the hospital’s prenatal services and adopted local families. On Dec.. 14, hospital staff collected gifts on site before being they were delivered to local agencies.
Sharp Grossmont Hospital Manager of Community Relations Ryan Purdy said “the fun part” of this event is partnering with East County organizations like the East County Transitional Living Center, The Salvation Army, Headstart, Vista Hill ParentCare Recovery Center, and Crisis House.
“In partnering with these agencies serving East County residents, up to 40 units from our hospital adopt these families and respond to very specific needs,” he said. “There are certainly toys, lots of clothes, and often times household goods. What makes the program special is that everything is tailored to that exact family. Family compositions can be very different, and it is very cool to see, even though we have grown into a very large hospital, in the 1950s we started out as a small community hospital, and this is part of the idea of staying connected in the community and being part of the community beyond the walls of the hospital.”
Purdy said for him the best part is he does not need to “chase down” departments in the hospital, as they are knocking at his door to adopt families each year.
“It is truly inspirational,” he said. “It is something we all look forward to every year.”
Purdy said all of the departments delivered their gifts early that morning, and after this many years, it ran smoothly with all organizations lined up, and each family’s donated items are separated and labeled. Then, the agencies come through with trucks to take back to their agencies, and then distribute the gifts.
“We definitely have it down to a science after 36 years, you can just see what a morale boost it is on both sides. But I would say especially for our staff. People are smiling as they deliver the specific gifts that they picked out. Typically, like a nursing unit will pull funds together for the family and then they will go out and shop for the items that are numerated as a wish list. It is really a unifying experience, and it all comes to fruition on that day when you deliver the gifts. So, the morning is really fun and very lighthearted,” he said.
Purdy said this event does more for the hospital staff than the recipients.
“Their jobs are tough every day no matter what the circumstances,” he said. “Obviously the last years have been tough with COVID, and now we have the trifecta from COVID, to the flu, to RSV, it is great respite. And it is a respite in a way that they know that they are making a difference. It is a very nice thing when they receive recognition, but conversely it is better feeling when they get a respite and they are able give back, set aside time for it, and know that they are helping the very community that walks through their doors,” he said.
Purdy said the hospital adopted 40 families this year which equates to about 250 individuals.