VA North Texas Health Care System
Gift shop is Santa's helper for hospitalized Veterans
Every year, around holiday time, VA North Texas Voluntary Service rallies its troops of Veterans Service Organizations (VSO). All year long, the VSOs collect items for the holiday gift shop anticipating being Santa’s helper for Veterans in the hospital who can’t stop at the mall and shop. Items that you would find on anyone’s holiday wish list, like clothing and accessories, jewelry, toys, appliances, home décor, etc., make their way to the gift shop where Veterans can complete their shopping. If a Veteran is too ill to come to the gift shop, volunteers go to their bedside, get their list and fill it – complete with where to ship it.
The gift shop has been around for more than 20 years at Dallas VA Medical Center and takes most Veterans totally by surprise when they hear about it. They thought their holiday was ruined by being in the hospital and didn’t see any way to get gifts for their family. But Santa’s elves, VA North Texas volunteers that is, take care of everything!
Spreading holiday cheer is just good medicine.
The same opportunity is provided to Veteran residents at Bonham VA. These annual events would not be possible without contributions from VSOs. Bobbie Scoggins, chief of Voluntary Service, said, “There are many volunteer projects I enjoy, but the patient holiday gift shop is truly one of my favorites. To see the expressions on the Veterans’ faces when they thought all was lost for the holidays makes everyone involved warm inside and puts that ‘peace on earth, goodwill to men’ feeling in your heart.”
Community groups and civic organizations who want to celebrate Veterans also come to the hospital to lend a hand with stuffing patient gift bags. This program ensures that every hospitalized Veteran receives a bag of goodies that usually includes hygiene and comfort items like T-shirts, socks, gloves, gift cards and candy. For some, this may be the only visitors and gifts they receive during the holidays.
Holiday gift giving, as presented by our volunteers, lets Veterans know VA cares for them and they are not forgotten during their hospital stay during the holidays.