For the past couple years, the Santa PICsU Foundation has been spreading holiday cheer throughout Akron Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
The founders of the foundation, who wish to remain anonymous, said their goal is simple – to bring the spirit of Christmas and giving to children in the PICU who are in need.
“It’s been a really easy sell for us. People hear about it and want to get involved, and it’s exciting seeing people ask how they can help,” said one of the founders. “You’re helping people who really need help at this time.”
With input from PICU doctors and nurses, the Santa PICsU Foundation shops for Christmas gifts to bring to the children and families who have to spend the holiday in the PICU. The group always does the shopping together and enjoys the opportunity to brighten children’s and families’ holidays.
“For me, the families are almost as important as the kids. With the situation they’re in, they’re feeling a financial pinch, so if we can help make their lives a little easier I think that’s very important,” said one of the founders.
The Hallmark store in Hudson has helped the foundation’s efforts by donating their time to wrap all of the donated gifts.
“They pulled an all-nighter last year,” one of the founders said of Hallmark. “We dropped 11 shopping carts–2 big trucks full of gifts–off on December 23 and those girls stayed up all night to wrap them for us so we could deliver them on Christmas Eve.”
In addition to members of the foundation discreetly dropping the wrapped gifts off at the hospital on Christmas Eve, Russo’s Restaurant in Peninsula donates a dinner that evening for staff and families to enjoy.
The group holds fundraisers during the year to raise money to purchase the gifts and this year’s inaugural Christmas in July event raised about $20,000 for the cause. The foundation said after raising that amount, their goal has grown and they now hope to extend the holiday spirit past December 24 and 25.
“It’s bringing the spirit of Christmas and giving to children who are in need in the PICU on a year-round basis,” said one of the founders. “We’re so thankful for everything Akron Children’s does for the kids. We’re not only committed to growing our foundation, we’re committed to doing it for a long period of time. We’re here to stay.”