Tearing the wrapping paper off gifts is the highlight of the holidays for many children. For families with children in the hospital, those moments of joy are all the more special.

Just before Christmas, members of the MGHfC Family Advisory Council wrapped gifts hand-picked by families for their children at the Toy Shop on Ellison 18. For children staying in the hospital, opening newly-wrapped gifts brought joy and spirit to the holiday season. The FAC at MGHfC is made up of 15 parents of patients who meet regularly with hospital staff and leadership to promote family-centered care and initiate quality improvements. Many of the parents who serve on the FAC know from personal experience what it is like to spend the holidays in the hospital.

 

Every year, John Hancock Child Life and Wellness Services at MGHfC transforms the conference room on Ellison 18 into a Holiday Toy Shop where families can select gifts for their children who are staying on the inpatient units, free of charge. Toy donations for children of all ages come in year-round from families, the Boston Bruins and other organizations. Members of the FAC wrap the gifts for children to open in their hospital rooms.

“When you have a child who’s in the hospital, it can be hard to find time to shop and wrap gifts,” said Jamie Rossi, MS, CCLS, a child life specialist in Pediatric Endoscopy.”We hope this helps ease that stress so families can enjoy the holidays with one another.”

Lisa Cimino and her daughter, Brianna, volunteered to wrap, knowing the feeling of being in the hospital for the holidays after Brianna had a kidney transplant. “It’s such a gift for parents to have the ability to shop for gifts for their children and have them wrapped to open like they would at home,” said Lisa, a member of the FAC and resident of Bedford, Mass. “We volunteered to wrap so children could feel that bit of joy and give back to the hospital.”

For FAC member Erin Quinney, that feeling of joy is also familiar for two of her three children. “My youngest daughter received care here and my son stayed in the NICU for a time when he was born,” said Quinney, of Woodstock, Conn. “I know how stressful it can be when you can’t do the normal holiday activities, like gift shopping and wrapping. If I can help bring joy to someone when you know how it feels to be in their shoes, it makes it all worth it.”