By Kris Leonhardt
GREEN BAY – On Dec. 12, Green Bay Area Fire Fighters I.A.F.F. Local 141, Green Bay Metro Fire Department (GBMFD) and Central Church joined together to provide a little extra holiday cheer while delivering gifts to children at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital.
The gifts were donated by members of Central Church in Green Bay and delivered by the GBMFD firefighters, through a program that has existed for more than a decade.
“So our congregation, what we did is we had a giving tree in our church for the last few weeks, and they would take a little ornament and it had a fire hydrant on it and it gave an age range — so like little boy ages two to four,” explained Anna McGrew, connections pastor at Central Church.
“What that person would do in our congregation is they buy a gift unwrapped. And then our church today with the firefighters of Green Bay Metro, we all wrapped all those gifts and then delivered them to the hospital.
More than a dozen children were surprised by the firefighters in their hospital room that morning, which St Vincent Child Life Specialist Lauren Vanden Heuvel said did much to uplift their spirits at an important time.
“I think what makes it so meaningful is not only do kids look up to firefighters and love to meet new people, they also get excited to think about a whole community of people supporting them with whatever they’re moving through,” she said.
GBMFD firefighters visited kids on the hospital’s in-patient floor as well as youth in the hematology oncology outpatient clinic.
“So, I think it just makes it really special for these kids to kind of also mix up the day and bring smiles and joy to what can be a really difficult situation, but we do our best here to try to make it as positive as possible, and they help us with that goal,” she added.
Vanden Heuvel said that there is always the potential the children will be in the hospital on Christmas Day.
“So, whether it’s a long inpatient stay they could still be here for Christmas. We do our very best with our kids who are here for reoccurring hospitalizations to avoid the holidays, but if it’s something that they have to be here for — whether they get a virus or an illness or we have to do a treatment — then they will come in on the holidays. So right now, I can’t predict who would all be here for Christmas, but there’s a likelihood that kids will be on the floor and receiving treatment at Christmas.”