While planning Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne’s float for tonight’s annual Festival of Lights Christmas Parade, the designing committee decided to include a Christmas tree, and to cover empty boxes in holiday wrapping paper and put them under the tree.
Then committee member Janice Hughes asked, “Why do the boxes have to be empty?”
“Janice came up with the idea, and the committee thought it was a great idea,” hospital President Blake Kretz said. “Instead of putting fake presents under the tree, let’s get people to donate real presents, and then we will donate the gifts after the parade.”
Hughes is the administrative assistant to Lorrie Normand, the hospital’s chief of nursing.
“Everyone got really excited,” Normand said. “Everyone thought it was a great idea. And it gave us a cause to work for.”
Kretz said committee members contacted Operation Blessing and the Family Crisis Center of Johnson County for ideas on collecting donations for their clients.
“We talked to them, and they suggested that we focus on getting gifts for kids ages 12 to 16,” Kretz said. “Everybody always wants to get gifts for the babies and the younger kids, but not as many people buy gifts for the older kids.”
He said that the parade committee got a list of items from the crisis center that clients there would need and want — such as alarm clocks and CD players and pajamas.
“We also got gift cards for fast food restaurants,” he said. “You don’t think about it really, but the kids, the families that the crisis center and Operation Blessing serve don’t really get many chances to go out and eat. We wanted to get the gift cards to give them that chance.”
Then, the parade committee invited employees from every department in the hospital to participate in the “Spirit of Giving,” Kretz said. The response was immediate and enthusiastic.