Human InterestThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Santa’s Wish List Brings Gifts to Healthcare Workers’ Children

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Megan Elba, left, administrator at North Westchester Restorative Therapy & Nursing Center in Mohegan Lake, with Tiffany Thames, a certified nursing assistant and a single mother of three. Thames was part of a program where the center’s staffers helped working parents by purchasing holiday gifts for their children.

The holiday season can be stressful for nearly anyone. For healthcare workers caring for ailing patients in a nursing home, gift shopping for their families can take the cheer out of a joyous holiday.

At North Westchester Restorative Therapy & Nursing Center in Mohegan Lake, a program to help staffers and their families has given back to these valuable workers, by lessening their burden and purchasing gifts for their children.

“The program honors our hardworking staff who have children,” said Megan Elba, the facility’s administrator. “Some of our staff have been in their shoes as working parents raising their own kids.”

Staff members volunteered to become sponsors who purchased gifts for their co-workers’ children. Elba said the number of sponsors this year was the most since the program began five years ago. This year 30 children received gifts.

The sponsors were anonymous. Each parent wanting gifts for their children was assigned a number and they detailed what their children wanted as part of a wish list to Santa. Sponsors chose a number and were given the corresponding family’s list.

On Wednesday, in the center’s large main room, several brightly wrapped gifts were piled in front of a Christmas tree waiting to be opened. Admiring the gifts was Tiffany Thames, a certified nursing assistant and a single mother of three. Thames, a Peekskill resident, was one of a group of parents whose children received gifts.

Thames filled out a wish list for the first time in the five years she has worked at the center. Her children are 16, 14 and six years old.

“Things have been a bit tight this year and I haven’t had that much time to shop,” Thames said. “My teens asked for sheet sets and comforters and gift cards for games. My six-year-old wants LEGOs.”

Thames said the Santa’s Wish List program and other holiday activities at North Westchester Restorative have always made her feel special.

“I do appreciate that it can be a fun place to work, where workers come together,” she said. “I feel like part of a family.”

As a certified nursing assistant, she does everything from feeding, grooming and helping patients be more mobile.

“It’s total care and some patients need more help than others,” Thames said. “Nursing assistants are the engines to nursing homes.”

Thames has been working on her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and expects to graduate next year. She is considering taking an accelerated program in nursing to keep her future job options open.

Children receiving gifts are asked to write general thank you notes to their sponsors. Thames said she hopes to learn who her sponsor was so her children could write thank you notes directly to that person.

“Without a doubt, my kids are absolutely writing thank you notes,” said Thames. “Gratitude comes from your heart.”


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