After a year of planning, Amanda Johnston and Heather Hilderley-Phillips (accompanied by Santa Claus) took time out of their busy schedules Friday Dec. 23 to deliver gifts to children spending Christmas in hospital.
It was the second consecutive year the two Sault Moms cheered sick children and their families at Sault Area Hospital’s paediatric wing and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
As reported earlier by SooToday the two women organized the One Stop Christmas Show & Silent Auction in November at Quattro Hotel & Conference Centre, with funds raised from the silent auction portion of the show used to purchase Christmas gifts for sick children and their parents.
“We came in with over $9,600 to spend (on gifts), we are very, very pleased,” Amanda told us.
At SAH Friday, the two presented a sleeper chair they purchased, plus a hospital-grade bottle warmer and other gifts they bought, such as new release DVDs, DVD players, CD players, mobiles, handmade quilt blankets, therapy colouring books, rainbow and star lamps, and much more.
“We gave out three tablets this year, one Samsung iPad and two iPad minis. It was so awesome to see the older kids so excited,” Amanda said.
“The excitement of the kids, especially the young girl who got her iPad mini, was so amazing.”
“It’s really amazing to see how much gift-giving can bring someone so much joy.”
“We didn't have as many kids in the paediatric ward this year, but there still were kids to give to, and we know the unit will put the stuff to good use. We left a few things for kids that may get admitted in the next few days,” Amanda said.
Amanda and Heather also purchased gift cards for parents of the hospitalized children, along with small gifts for the childrens’ siblings.
“For us, it truly was another amazing, nice experience. Nothing beats putting a smile on a kid’s face, and our Santa again was amazing with his funny, charismatic attitude that just brings joy to everyone,” Amanda said.
Amanda and Heather know the need for sick children and their parents to be remembered at this time of year.
Amanda’s daughter Brooke was born at 25 weeks in November 2008 and weighed a pound and 13 ounces.
Amanda spent 176 days at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in London, Ontario with Brooke, away from most of her family and friends at Christmas, touched by the generosity of people who purchased gifts for she and her daughter while in London.
Brooke is now eight years old and doing well, Amanda said.
Heather’s daughter Penelope, now fours years old, suffered from respiratory problems and endured a hospital stay in Ottawa, but she too is feeling better, Heather told us.
“We are already planning what we can do for next year, to make it even better!” Amanda exclaimed.