Treasure Coast Hospice, Children’s Holiday Party
Article & Photos by MaryAnn Ketcham
Determined not to let COVID-19 shatter the holiday hopes and spirits of the children being cared for by the Little Treasures Pediatric Program and Good Grief Counseling Services, dedicated Treasure Coast Hospice staff and volunteers were compelled to brainstorm a new vision for its highly-anticipated annual holiday celebration.
Because 2020 brought a set of unprecedented stumbling blocks, the first and foremost priority became keeping the kids and their families safe and as germ-free as possible. By relocating the party from indoors at the Fort Pierce campus to outside at the Mayes Center in Stuart, practicing social distancing and requiring masks, that mission was accomplished.
The center island of the large rear parking area adjacent the gardens was transformed into a veritable Winter Wonderland packed with holiday inflatables, lights, and other festive decorations.
The early portion of the evening served as a drive-through for those unable to stroll the grounds independently. Greeted by costumed staff and volunteers, the vehicles, with rolled down windows and breaths of fresh, chilly air, proceeded through various stations designed to soothe, entertain and evoke smiles.
A little later, families walked the roundabout via a colorful chalk-drawn pathway. Stops included a hula/limbo spot, a Happy Hanukkah table with dreidel giveaways, a photo backdrop area, and a dice rolling game with such challenges as 'pat your head while rubbing your tummy,' dance the floss, and more!
Each family received an 'Ugly Sweater Cookie decorating kit,' a gingerbread house to take home and construct, coloring books with crayons, and other prizes.
Music Therapist Liz Lung and her merry team of carolers serenaded the crowd with traditional holiday tunes, providing comfort and joy throughout the evening. And Santa, the Grinch, and Little Cindy Lou Who extended warm wishes to everyone in attendance.
Thanks to Board Chair Jimmie Anne Haisley and her Healing Hoofs Therapy Horses, Inc., miniature horses Calvin and Banks, led by handler/trainer Barbara Neuman, posed for caresses and photos. The dynamic duo evoked ear-to-ear grins on each precious child's face.
Topping off the night's activities, guests indulged in cookies, hot cocoa, and the enveloping ambiance of warmth provided by their caregivers at Little Treasures and Good Grief Counseling Services.
“The annual Children’s Holiday Party is one of the memorable experiences that Treasure Coast Hospice offers to children and families facing serious illness,” said Director of Grief Support and Pediatric Services Jacki Nardone. “This year, more so than ever, it was important to continue the tradition. The outdoor, socially distanced Winter Wonderland that our staff and volunteers arranged featured new surprises that made for a magical holiday evening for our patients and families. We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations in our community that have generously supported this program year after year.”
Little Treasures, Treasure Coast Hospice’s specialized pediatric hospice and palliative care program, provides comfort and support to children, teens, and families facing serious illness. Good Grief Counseling Services help grieving children, teens and families work through their loss by connecting them with peers and engaging in family activities to help them cope with their grief.
For more information, please visit TreasureHealth.org.
John Choffin and Dave Seyffart, Martin Funeral Home
Danielle Batton, Gabrielle McNally and Shannon Davis
Jody Braskamp and Craig Perry
Music Therapist Liz Lung and friends
Ashley Haughton and Christine Birkett
Duska P. pets the miniature horses
Susan King, Jane Coutts and Charity Ginger
Barbara Neumann with Calvin and Banks
Emily M. dances the floss
Volunteers and Martin Funeral Home
Kirk C. and Suzanne Gaskill
Sheneka Claire with Tiffany, Trinity and Howard Richards
The Grinch with Cindy Lou Who aka Jackie Kendrick, CEO