, Port Arthur, Texas

December 17, 2013

Spreading joy contagious for hospital workers

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The door accessing the social services department at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas features a doorbell that chimes “Joy to the World,” hinting at what lies inside.

Brightly colored wrapping paper, stacks of brand new toys and bicycles of all sizes are piled in the center of the room and spread to other rooms inside the department.

Employees at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas are working to make this Christmas a merry one for a special group of children.

Joan Sheehan, director of social services at the hospital, is in her 26th year of heading up a drive to collect toys for children under child protective services. The children are not in foster care but in their own homes. This year the hospital is helping 79 children.

“It’s wonderful,” Sheehan said. “It’s what Christmas is supposed to be.”

The toy drive began with Park Place and Mid-Jefferson hospitals then moved to The Medical Center when the new hospital opened.

Jana Freeman, with risk management at the hospital, said you can’t help but get involved in the toy drive. Sheehan called the task “contagious.”

“We (at the hospital) are blessed in a lot of ways. We help people from birth to death,” she said. “This brings happiness. We are meeting the needs of a child whose needs might not otherwise be met.”

But it’s not just the children under CPS care who receive the gifts but all the children in that household.

Sheehan explained that case workers send the name and some information on a child and the child’s Christmas wishes, “whether they’re 18 years old or two months old.”

During the toy collection phase the hospital held raffles and also sold T-shirts, she said.

“The generosity of the employees is beyond any of our expectations,” she said. “This is above and beyond.”

Besides assisting the children at Christmas, the hospital also works to fill the wishes of seniors at four local nursing homes.

“Helping those in the nursing homes is also very moving,” Freeman said. “One person asked for postage stamps.”

Another senior asked for socks, Sheehan said, while a third one requested Dr. Pepper soda and fruit.

Any surplus toys will be donated to Community Care Prayer Outreach, a non-profit agency that serves South and Mid-Jefferson County.


Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews