Gifting teddy bears to hospital patients for the holidays

By The Health News Team | January 19, 2024
The San Diego Blood Bank, Grossmont Healthcare District and Sharp Grossmont Hospital staff posing with the bears they’re gifting to patients for the holidays.
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The San Diego Blood Bank, Grossmont Healthcare District and Sharp Grossmont Hospital staff posing with the bears they’re gifting to patients for the holidays.

Joanne and Diane McGrogan posing with their bear at Sharp Grossmont Hospital
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Joanne and Diane McGrogan posing with their bear at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Leroy Callahan posing with his holiday bear at Sharp Grossmont Hospital
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Leroy Callahan posing with his holiday bear at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Usually, the holidays involve spending time with friends, family and loved ones. However, if you happened to find yourself at Sharp Grossmont Hospital this past holiday season, you learned the hospital’s team members, with the help of some community partners, go above and beyond to ensure Sharp Grossmont is the best place to receive care during this special time.

Every December, Sharp Grossmont, the Grossmont Healthcare District and the San Diego Blood Bank hold a Winter Wishes event. This annual event is a collaboration to deliver cute, fluffy teddy bears to patients who are spending the holidays in the hospital.

“For 15 years, the San Diego Blood Bank, Sharp Grossmont Hospital and Grossmont Healthcare District have partnered in bringing joy during the holiday season to hospital patients,” says Cherryl Castro-Lector, director of development at the San Diego Blood Bank. “Winter Wishes represents the unique and special connection between blood donors and patients whose lives depend on donated blood. We are honored to bring peace and comfort during this special time.”

The connection between blood donation and bears

Winter Wishes is launched each year when people donate blood to the San Diego Blood Bank. For every donation, they receive points that can be redeemed for stuffed bears to be given to Sharp Grossmont patients.

On the day the stuffed animals are delivered, members from the Grossmont Healthcare District and the San Diego Blood Bank arrive at Sharp Grossmont for a brief meeting with members from the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Community Resource Center, Volunteer Services, and Patient Experience Navigator teams. During the meeting, representatives from the hospital discuss the guidelines for bear distribution across the hospital.

Members from the three organizations then divide into teams. Each team takes a cart full of teddy bears to their assigned areas, covering over 200 rooms on five floors.

Delivering bears and bright smiles

At first, patients may be startled by a gentle knock on the door. However, when followed by a friendly, "Happy holidays! Would you like a teddy bear?" their spirits are often lifted.

“When they hear a knock on the door, they always assume it's going to be another blood pressure check, needle or medication,” says Ryan Purdy, manager of community relations. “Instead, it’s somebody smiling with a teddy bear. That moment is so cool and a real nice change of pace.”

Those moments are what makes this event so special. Every member of the team plays an essential role with one goal in mind — making the holidays unforgettable.

Learn more about donating blood to the San Diego Blood Bank; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News; and subscribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking the "Sign up" link below.

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Ryan Purdy

Contributor

Ryan Purdy is the community relations manager at the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Community Resource Center.


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