There may not have been a chimney, snow or jolly old St. Nick, but Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital personnel still found a way to slay this holiday season.
Aided by the Glendale fire and police department, hospital staff passed out gifts to more than 400 students from Cerritos Elementary Computer Science Immersion Magnet School on Wednesday morning.
Every child from the school, which serves a large segment of lower-income students, received a present, as did teachers.
“The partnership with the hospital is great for our students because it shows them the community supports them,” said Perla Chavez-Fritz, Cerritos’ principal. “There’s so much value for them to know that there are people cheering them on, and this act of generosity spreads the joy to them.”
Students provided wish lists, and the hospital answered with a variety of gifts, including soccer and basketballs, art supplies and games.
“It was super cool to see the gifts,” Cerritos third-grader Sky Simpson said. “I knew it was coming, but it was exciting.”
The gift presentation came at the end of a regularly scheduled school assembly and awards presentation in the campus auditorium.
As the anticipation built, enthusiasm, along with the noise level, rose until the students, nearly in unison, bellowed out a shriek of joy when a curtain was pulled away to reveal a stage full of wrapped presents.
“This is a special time of year for our students, and you can see the excitement on their faces — this is Christmas,” Glendale Unified Supt. Winfred B. Roberson Jr. said. “I go back to my childhood. Nothing was more exciting than to be able to wake up and open a gift, and so I thank Dignity Health and police and fire for this special moment.”
A few classes were immediately handed gifts in the auditorium, while the majority of presents were distributed to the classrooms.
“I knew the gifts were coming. I was so excited,” said sixth-grader Javon Lyman, who added he’s looking forward to playing games “all day” over the holiday break.
He added, “I really want to get ‘Battleship’ and a basketball and a soccer ball.”
Wednesday was the sixth consecutive year that the Glendale Memorial Hospital provided gifts for the entire school, said hospital staff.
Prior to that, the hospital participated in the Adopt-A-Family program with Cerritos.
“We are delighted to be able to help more Cerritos families, and this is an event that so many in the hospital look forward to,” said the Rev. Cassie McCarty, Glendale Memorial’s director of mission integration and spiritual care.
“If you look outside [the school], you can see the hospital from here,” said Virginia Hunter, the hospital’s communications manager. “We’re a part of this community and we want to give back.”