Stillwater Medical Center Brings Christmas to Community
Stillwater, Okla.– Barbara Charles heads up Stillwater Medical Center’s Adopt-A-Family program each Christmas. For the last 13 years, departments throughout Stillwater Medical Center voluntarily provide Christmas to Stillwater and Perkins families with identified hardships. The 2009 season saw a need that was greater than ever and was matched with a community ready to meet it.
“We started with about 35 families,” Charles said. “Stillwater and Perkins elementary school counselors identify families in need and collect all the necessary information. Our cutoff date for recommendations was October 31st, but we kept getting families in. So many this year had lost their jobs and didn’t know what they were going to do. That’s why I think at the end this year there were so many more families than expected.”
Charles says that many outside the Stillwater Medical Center community heard about the program and wanted to help this year. With the additional help, Stillwater Medical Center’s Adopt-A-Family program provided Christmas to43 local families and the Payne County Youth Shelter, several coats to Mission of Hope and baskets to 73 Mobile Meal recipients.
“By the grace of God, when we got more families in, we would get a donor from the community who wanted to participate,” Charles continued. “I’m not sure where they heard about our program, but they did and it all worked out.”
Charles sees the project this year as truly a community-wide effort. Dry Clean City donated cleaning services for collected coats, as well as all the coats that had been donated to them during the season. Wal-Mart donated $100 in Wal-Mart cards. Cooper’s Bicycle Center helped repair some of the gently used bikes at no cost.
“I think that it is real important for the children to feel like they belong to the community and that they are getting the same type of nurturing and caring at home that other kids are,” said Diedra Warren, counselor at Skyline Elementary. “These families really do need the help.”
Warren worked until 4 p.m. the day before winter break placing families in need with programs that could help.
“We pulled it off but there were just so many this year that needed help,” Warren said. “Stillwater Medical Center is the biggest group that takes care of us. They always come through for us and are the only ones that we can count calling to help each year.”
Charles sites Total Health as one of the Stillwater Medical Center departments that always goes above the call to meet the need.
“Barbara usually gives Total Health one of the largest families in need,” said BlakeWeichbrodt, Director of Total Health. “There definitely is a sense of satisfaction that we have whenever we see just how much we accumulate and give. This year we had to get a truck for all the items our department had.”
Weichbrodt says it’s amazing to see the families light up and to see how appreciative they are, yet how humble.
“Some of the parents hadn’t requested anything for themselves, only for their children,” Weichbrodt continued. “So a few of our massage therapists donated massages and then we got bath salts for the parents. Our group likes to look outside the box for gifts.”
Warren has already received numerous thank you’s from parents and knows the Stillwater Medical program truly makes a difference. “Having a wrapped present that is the child’s very own under the tree is so important for improving self-concept.”
Charles said many stories from the program live near her heart year round. Her husband spoke with one mother who had given up on her hope and faith.
“Before he began helping me deliver presents that night, he felt someone was going to be blessed in more ways than the gifts,” Charles recalls. “Somehow he knew it was this mother. She began telling him she had been at the end of her rope, not knowing how she would provide Christmas for her children. When she found out they had been selected as a family, she felt renewed and blessed. That’s what the holidays are all about.”
Stillwater Medical Center’s Human Resources department serves as the collection spot for all Adopt-A-Family gifts. Last year, presents spilled down hallways and piled atop tables showing the program’s success and community’s love for neighbors in need.