WMed Health’s pediatric practice keeps the holiday spirit alive with toy drive, community donations

Holiday cheer at WMed Health's Pediatrics practice
Holiday cheer is abundant at WMed Health's Pediatrics practice.

The holiday spirit is alive and well in the WMed Health Pediatrics practice in the month of December.

From about 1,500 toys and other gifts lining tables at the Pediatrics clinic at 1000 Oakland Drive, to providers dressing in festive attire and the program’s 25 residents adopting a family to support for the holidays, the holiday cheer is abundant.

“We try to cater to the community because we have a strong, ongoing link with them,” said Lubaina Ehsan, MD, a second-year pediatrics resident. “We love to keep the holiday spirit and the spirit of giving alive. In return, it continues to build that relationship with the community that we try to keep.”

Anonymous donors, including medical school faculty members, staff and others in the community supply new books, toys, jewelry, scarves, cold weather items, dolls, blankets, Christmas socks, hair accessories and other gifts for pediatric patients who visit WMed Health’s general pediatrics and pediatrics subspecialty practices in the month of December. The tradition, started at the clinic in 2018, allows each patient to pick a Christmas gift and even grab a gift for each sibling after an appointment with a provider.

Gifts are grouped in age ranges from newborn to 21 and patients have the chance to pick something special throughout December until they run out. In addition, three Santa Claus statues stand next to each table to bring the holiday spirit to children and their families.

Christmas gifts at WMed Health's Pediatrics practice
Christmas gifts wait to be selected by patients at WMed Health's Pediatrics practice.

“We care about our patients and want to bring them Christmas, holiday and New Year cheer,” said Mariam Ischander, MBChB, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. “We want to serve our community, bring them happiness and make them feel important.”

This year, cars have been especially popular, and the clinic staff has been searching all three toy stations on the first and second floors of the clinic building to find them for patients who want them.  

“I love the team because I found them going upstairs and downstairs, whatever it takes, until they find what the child wants,” Dr. Ischander said. “They do it with love and from their hearts.”  

In another nod to supporting the community, the pediatric residents adopt a family or families to supply with Christmas gifts. A WMed Health social worker will identify a family or families who could use some extra Christmas cheer and gives the residents a list of items the family wants or needs. The residents collect monetary, clothing, toy and electronics donations from each other and pediatric faculty members, and the program’s chief residents buy needed supplies from the money that was collected. This year they adopted a family of four and raised $750 to supply the family with a Meijer gift card for the parents, appropriate winter clothing, including gloves, hats and mittens, for the children and some toys.  

“This just adds a layer of support for our community,” Dr. Ehsan said. “We like to keep up the spirit of the season.”

The pediatric residents kept the holiday spirit alive for their patients by hosting a Spirit Week December 12 to December 16. They wore festive attire with Ugly Sweater Day and Red and Green Day, and continued the fun with Crazy Hair Day, Wear Purple Day and Crazy Sock Day. They also hosted a Secret Santa gift exchange and a holiday potluck.  

“We like to spread joy during the holiday season, give back and support the community in whatever way we can,” Dr. Ehsan said.