As the holidays approach, you might find yourself going through your list of things to check off before celebrating with friends and family. But for some, having a child in the hospital during this time of year can make for an emotional and challenging experience.
To help make a difference, the Bismarck Fire Department is once again spreading holiday cheer to children and their families in the Bismarck-Mandan area. In its ninth year, the tradition continues at CHI St. Alexius Health as Luke Teagle, Captain of the Bismarck Fire Department, organizes a group of firefighters to connect with local businesses and individuals asking for donations to support local organizations that assist children during this time of year.
The Bismarck Fire Department’s goal each year is to give back to the community and help children and families during Christmas time. “They’re going through difficult things which may have altered their typical traditions and lifestyles. We’re there to try to help ease the burden and help in any way we can,” said Captain Teagle.
Hundreds of gifts and thousands of dollars of gift cards were donated this year throughout the Bismarck-Mandan area from 14 local businesses and several individuals through toy drives and monetary donations. Previously, Christmas gifts were delivered directly to the children in the hospital by the firefighters. Due to the ongoing pandemic, gifts will once again be distributed by hospital staff to the neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric unit, and pediatric therapy unit.
Nellie Blotter, clinical supervisor in the NICU and Peds units, describes the children’s reactions when they receive these gifts, “They just can’t believe it happens. They’re so distraught, so it’s really a bright spot in their day.” As for the families, gift cards offer hope to those that simply don’t have the means to get through an extended stay. This gesture allows them to have time to reset and enjoy a meal, fuel their car or grab some groceries while their child is in the hospital.
Captain Teagle plans to continue the tradition for years to come. He added, “We feel it’s a worthy project and is a great way to help out individuals and their families and give to someone else in need.”