The magic of Christmas was alive and well at the Santa Clarita Health Center, a Northeast Valley Health Corporation (NEVHC) center, Friday when children received special gifts from Santa Claus himself.
“They’re so excited and some of them are seeing Santa for the first time,” said Judy Shay, marketing and communications manager for NEVHC. “It’s really gratifying to be part of this.”
In its 20th year, the two-week NEVHC Toy Drive and Santa Visits Program distributes toys to more than 1,000 newborn to 10-year-old patients at seven of the organization’s 14 health center in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys.
“It makes a huge impact on the families and kids,” said Kurt Cabrera-Miller, chairman of the NEVHC Board of Directors and a former behavioral psychologist.
Every child at each of the toy drive locations receives a new toy worth at least $10. The toy drive is supported by donations from corporations, officials, businesses, community partnerships and NEVHC employees. According to Shay, 50 organizations contributed to this year’s holiday celebration.
“This is the first year when we’ve had everything donated,” she said.
For many of NEVHC’s patients, the toys they receive are the only gifts they receive all year.
“Sometimes a Mom is thanking Santa and crying because she wouldn’t have been able to give a Christmas present to her kids this year,” Cabrera-Miller said.
Employees of the location also get involved in the holiday spirit, sporting Santa hats, elf ears, festive aprons, Christmas ties and other holiday apparel.
“The employees are volunteering their time,” Shay said. “They love to help out and see the children smiling.”
NEVHC has three health center locations in the Santa Clarita Valley, in additional to its mobile unit and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) centers, and plans on opening an additional center in Newhall in 2017.
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