Sick children and their families got away from hospital rooms and a break from treatments to enjoy warm meals together and celebrate the holidays on Friday. Santa Claus visited with patients at Children’s Hospital Central California while the employees of SAFTI FIRST, a Merced manufacturing business, served food and gave each child a gift.
Different toys bought by the company’s employees were set up along a wall, categorized by age group. Each patient chose a toy within their age bracket. The nearly 170 gifts included dolls, dress up accessories, toy cars and planes, board games, action figures, iPods, digital cameras, headphones, pianos and DVDs.
In the middle of the pile, there was a gift that will remain in the hospital for all the patients to share. It was a customized Nintendo Wii Fun Center mobile entertainment unit, which helps ease fear and anxiety in children who are waiting for surgery or in the emergency room, receiving treatment or fighting loneliness when visiting hours are over, the hospital staff said.
The gaming system is the fourth one that the company has donated to the hospital since it started doing the annual event four years ago. “There’s one for every floor now,” said Ron Drew, vice president of operations for O’Keefe’s Inc. SAFTI FIRST...