Gifts for Children program spreads cheer during a challenging holiday season

The Gifts for Children program looked a little different in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the program still managed to make the unprecedented holiday season a little brighter for children across the city.

During the holiday season, toys and gifts were not collected from the UT Health San Antonio community and delivered to local hospitals and clinics serving children as in years past. Instead, monetary donations, collected through fundraisers held before the pandemic, were divided and given to clinics and organizations supported by the program.

Co-chair of Gifts for Children, Mercedes Esquivel, delivers a check for the University Health System Foundation.

In December, Mercedes Esquivel, senior development coordinator in the Office of Institutional Advancement and co-chair of Gifts for Children, delivered the checks to local hospitals and clinics. Esquivel and her co-chair James Garza, practice manager, Primary Care Clinic, worked together to run the program.

The University Health System Foundation received a check for $1,920 to support children at three University Health clinics.

Esquivel delivered a $640 check to Methodist Hospital to support the Blue Bird Auxiliary’s Child Life Department.

Mercedes Esquivel delivers check to members of the Blue Bird Auxiliary.

And nearly $2,000 in funds from the Gifts for Children program were given to support Patient Family Services at the Mays Cancer Center, the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine Division of Neonatology’s PREMIEre Program and the School of Nursing’s Wellness 360 Pediatrics Team.

Staff from the Mays Cancer Center’s Patient Family Services were able to purchase Walmart gift cards to support children and families in need of some extra help as they go through treatment.

The PREMIEre Program was able to purchase age-appropriate developmental toys and books for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit survivors.

Wellness 360 Pediatrics Team purchased gifts for a local foster family.

The Wellness 360 Pediatrics Team used the funds to deliver a special surprise for a local foster family. All six children received everything on their wish lists and their foster mother was presented with an H-E-B gift card.

Since its inception in 1989, the Gifts for Children program has brought many smiling faces to children hospitalized or being treated across the city with the donation of toys and books during the December holidays. The support of UT Health San Antonio employees keeps the program going year after year.

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