Dozens of Glendale Memorial Hospital staff members Monday set aside their stethoscopes and medical charts to serve the community in a different capacity.
Arms loaded with packages and bags, they made trip after trip to the hospital's main lobby until it was piled high with gifts intended for needy families at Cerritos Elementary School.
"We are fortunate enough to have a Christmas we can count on, and it's the least we can do to all pitch in just a little bit to make sure somebody else has even a hint of the joy we are having with our own families," said Glendale Memorial nurse Abby Lloyd Sabin.
For more than a decade, the hospital has maintained a partnership with Cerritos Elementary, said Bonnie Butler, manager of volunteer serves at Glendale Memorial. Each Christmas, departments within the hospital "adopt" an economically disadvantaged family from the school, committing to provide the family with a full Christmas experience.
This year, 37 hospital departments adopted 25 families, Butler said. Recipients are identified by teachers and staff members at Cerritos Elementary.
"Now, with what is going on with the economy, a lot of our families are out of work or their hours have been cut back," said Melinda Perez, a community liaison at Cerritos Elementary. "This partnership we have with Glendale Memorial helps the families to receive a Christmas that they maybe wouldn't be receiving."
Gifts included food, clothing, toys, electronics, holiday decorations and gift cards. On average, participants contribute about $25 to the effort, although some contribute much more, said Housni Hariri, administrative director of radiology at the Glendale Memorial.
Providing struggling families with a memorable holiday is consistent with the mission of Glendale Memorial, said nurse Shimekal Gorsline.
"We have awards to exemplify what we do for our community, and this is part of us giving back to the community," Gorsline said. "We are very happy to do it."