(Victor Valley)–The children at first looked in disbelief, then gleamed as they watched Santa lead a large group of elves carrying three bags full of donated presents as they paraded down the hospital corridor and into children’s rooms.
At the same time other hospital patients throughout the hospital were serenaded by a group of Christmas carolers.
For the second straight year, students from Cal State San Bernardino’s nursing program had come to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center to bring Christmas cheer to hospital patients young and old along with the nursing staff.
Calling themselves Santa’s Nurses, the students, all members of the student club Coyote Nurses, went to the medical center on Dec. 14 in two groups.
The first group of elves visited the Inland Empire’s second largest pediatric unit and also the burn ward to deliver presents to children who faced the possibility of spending Christmas in a hospital room, while the second group became holiday carolers singing holiday cheer, said CSUSB nursing instructor and faculty adviser Paula Spencer.
The 12 nursing students/elves who gave out gifts were: Fady Boules of Corona, who played Santa; Brittany Tilden of Riverside; Chloe Deponte of Fontana; Jennifer Brunn of Running Springs; Vanessa Sandoval of Wildomar; Kim Veuleman of Lake Arrowhead; Tracey Anne Anacleto of Fontana; Kaitlyn Wakefield of Rosamond; Christine Kang of Ontario; Krista Flores of Mira Loma; Michelle Bonus of Redlands and Taylor Baker of Highland.
The nursing student carolers were: William Mendiola of Victorville; April Zarate of Redlands; Jill Royale Antolin of Yucaipa; Therese Eguia of Perris; Christopher Johnson of Hesperia; Michael De Guia of Bellflower; Rachel Kottkamp of Claremont; Duyen Phan of Colton; and Justin Malalis of Highland.
One toddler, who watched apprehensively from her hospital bed as Santa and his elves entered her room, broke into a smile when she realized who they were.
The scene repeated itself throughout the visit.
With all the good cheer the students spread at last year’s visit, when it came time to prepare for this year’s visit by Santa’s Nurses, more than 40 students volunteered to sing or play musical instruments, Spencer said.
The large number of volunteers paid off as the number of students who came to the rehearsals fluctuated because of ongoing classes and internships.
The students’ first appearance was in early December for the medical center’s tree lighting ceremony, Spencer said.
Spencer called the visit a win-win situation for all, including the student nurses, because they would have a chance to hone their interpersonal skills with patients.
“Often times students focus on their set skills and nursing skills,” Spencer said. “But it’s also important for nurses to work on how they deal with patients and other nurses, and this is a great opportunity for the interaction.”
The idea for Santa’s visit and caroling came from Boules, who graduated in December, but as the association’s vice president last year, proposed that the students visit the medical center and area hospitals.
The group’s visit went so well that they have been invited back to perform for the medical center’s volunteer lunch in the spring, Spencer said. “It’s enjoyable to see our students come together to sing.”
For more information, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007. Visit the university’s news site at http://news.csusb.edu.