Practicing Christmas safety at Arkansas Children’s hospital and nursing home

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Despite COVID-19 and all the limitations it puts on us this holiday season, Christmas joy isn’t canceled for kids at Arkansas Children’s or residents in Little Rock nursing homes.

Arkansas Children’s said their annual “Festival of Stars” toy and donation drive was different, but still there.

“And we really re-imagined that to a contactless, drop off event,” said Erica Phillips with Arkansas Children’s.

Despite the change, “Festival of Stars” still managed to raise more than $319,000 in toys and gifts for patients and their families.

Typically, those families shop the free gifts in person at the hospital’s “Snowflake Shoppe.”

But this year, that was out of the question. So, Arkansas Children’s IT department stepped up and made an entire website.  

“And they were able to select toys, our families were, for their kiddos, through the website and then they were delivered to their patient rooms,” Phillips said.

Meanwhile, nursing homes are doing their best to keep residents’ spirits up.

“It’s a hard time, things are different,” said Rachel Bunch of the Arkansas Healthcare Association. “But residents are resilient.”

At the Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Good Shepherd, staff dressed up like elves, hosting socially-distant Christmas parties for their residents.  

“So, they had a series of parties throughout the day with a smaller number of people in their community space,” Bunch said.

With no outsiders coming in, Bunch said there is a way to let loved ones in nursing homes know you care.

“Send cards, send gifts, call and check on them, ask to set up a FaceTime,” Bunch said.

Because just like the rest of us, they, too could use a little pick-me-up this holiday season.

Good Shepherd said they’ll be getting the COVID-19 Moderna vaccines on Monday. They’ve been calling families and asking for permission to give the vaccines to their residents. Staff will also be vaccinated the same day.

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