NEW PORT RICHEY — More than 15 children and their families received a surprise visit from Santa Claus during Gulfside Regional Hospice’s recent Children’s Holiday Party at Cotee River Elementary School in New Port Richey.
The jolly ol’ elf dropped by to pass out gifts and take pictures with theyoungsters.
The party is one of the several events in the Mending Hearts program, which is designed to help children dealing with the loss of a loved one.
“The smiles on the faces of the children were beautiful throughout the afternoon,” said Karl Knox, director of bereavement Gulfside. “At the party, the children enjoy singing, opening up gifts and sharing a meal with their family and friends. Most importantly, they realize that even in the midst of their grief, they can experience joy at our holiday party.”
Dozens of children filled out wish lists with three items that they would like to receive from Santa Claus. Gulfside employees were then given the opportunity to choose a child’s list, shop for gifts and to give them anonymously to the youngsters.
Partygoers enjoyed a pizza dinner, holiday music and animal balloons made by Gulfside employee Angela Dillow dressed as Tippy the Clown.
A second party treated children in East Pasco at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Dade City.
Gulfside provides all bereavement services free of charge to Pasco County residents regardless of previous participation with hospice. For more information , call 800-561-4883 or visit http://www.GRHospice.org.