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Friday, September 20, 2019  

Denver-area hospitals spreading holiday joy to needy familiesPublished 12/9/2002

by Scott Cooper

The holiday season usually brings about companies, agencies and organizations who undertake programs and efforts to help those most in need. Hospitals are no exception to this effort with several taking part in adopt-a-family programs.

Denver-area hospitals involved in adopt-a-family efforts include Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Porter Hospital and the University of Colorado Health Science Center (UCHSC).

Porter and Presbyterian/St. Luke’s share a similar method with various departments within the two hospitals adopting families.

Deb Page, head of Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Intensive Care Unit, said her department has adopted two families this holiday season.

"We usually take a couple of families from a church that has 800 needy families," Page said. "They have already been screened and we get a wish list."

At Porter, the different departments and units may choose to adopt-a family and give holiday gifts and food, said Bonnie Fuller, hospital spokeswoman.

"We get information on needy families from Adventist Community Services LIFT—the same organization to which we donate the food," Fuller said. "They (Adventist) just told me that they estimate that Porter employees and departments adopted about 50 families last year."

Porter’s charity efforts begin well before the Christmas season. The hospital’s adopting and giving begins in the fall and continues through Christmas with their "Season of ThanksCaring."

"In September and October, we have what we call our ‘Employee Campaign’ in which employees are encouraged to give to any of a list of charities and it can be deducted from their paychecks," Fuller said. "Last year, employees from Porter and Littleton Adventist Hospitals gave $165,000 in that manner to various local and national charities."

That portion of the Season of ThanksCaring is run through the PorterCare Foundation.

"In November, we do a nonperishable food drive in which employees are invited to bring in nonperishable food to be given to a charitable service organization who gives the food to needy families," Fuller said.

"The Friday night before Thanksgiving, we do a musical program for the public, with as many as 2,000 people attending. The entrance "fee" is a can of food for the needy. That is called the Festival of ThanksCaring." As for the gifts for needy families in December, Fuller said most gifts involve always includes Christmas gifts for all family members. It usually includes food or a food basket. "It sometimes includes money, but not as often as the other two items," she said.

UCHSC takes a different approach to adopting the needy for the holidays. "Every year we work with Gove Middle School and do the adopt-a-family program," said UCHSC spokeswoman Dana Cantanaro. "But it is not just one family; it is several."

Most of the gift giving involves usually items such as food, clothes and needed essentials for daily living. Which is what the staff at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s sees every year.

"They are very practical," Page said. "They don’t want a DVD player." This year, one of the families Page’s ICU staff has adopted is a family eight which includes a mother and father, their 19-year-old daughter, her husband and their four-month-old child. The mother and father also have three other children ages 4, 11 and 16.

"We usually take a family that is very needy because ICU is a large staff and we can take a large family," Page said.

One of the more memorable families the Presbyterian/St. Luke’s ICU staff adopted came a couple of years ago with a family who had just immigrated from Africa.

"They fled tribal fighting and we did both Thanksgiving and Christmas for them," Page said. "They were in a two-bedroom apartment with 12 kids and that place was spotless. The family now owns their own property."

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