Hudson Valley Hospital's 'Santa's Helpers' Help Needy Children

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Santa helps a Girl Scout wrap a present, at Hudson Valley Hospital Center's "Santa's Helpers" event. Photo Credit: Jessica Glenza

CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. -- Hudson Valley Hospital Center staffers, volunteers and Santa Claus came together to wrap presents for almost 100 needy children Wednesday afternoon.

"To me, the amazing thing was we had one woman go out and shop for two children, and didn't want any recognition, and that's $250," said Sue Lepore, event organizer and hospital administration employee. "Just last week we got a brother and sister who were from a domestic abuse type family, and after last Friday, it hit home with everybody," said Lepore.

Each year hospital staff members raise money for "Santa's Helpers," through fundraisers such as "jeans days," where employees buy the privilege of wearing jeans for $10.

Then the Westchester County Department of Social Services provides hospital shoppers with a list of children and their holiday wishes. Each child receives about $125 worth of presents.

"It's all about giving back. It's nice to be able to make sure children in our community are going to have gifts," said Jeanne Costella, hospital vice president for human resources. Costella said many of the gifts were modest: "One of the girls on our list wanted socks," she said.

Brownie Troop #2248 helped with wrapping presents. Members of the troop are between 8 and 9 years old. Allison Brownell said it's important to wrap presents for other children at the Santa's Helpers event "because they can have something to play with."

Costella participated in Santa's Helpers since its inception, 17 years ago. Now, she said, "It's part of the holiday."

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