Kids in the pediatric ward of Juan F. Luis Hospital over the holidays got a little extra love Christmas morning. Eight members of the Democratic Party of the Virgin Islands donned red Santa caps with white puffs on the ends and came into the hospital’s pediatric ward with a sack full of gifts.
Four children — two boys and two girls — spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day at the hospital. "It’s depressing for the kids to be here on Christmas, so thank you for coming," said nurse Shereen Newton when the group arrived.
Delegate Donna Christensen, Sen. Sammuel Sanes, two of Gov. John deJongh Jr.’s special assistants and all the top officials of the St. Croix District Committee of the Democratic Party came out. Each member went shopping on his or her own, buying and wrapping gifts appropriate for young children, said St. Croix District Committee Chairwoman Alicia Barnes.
Since they did not know who would be at the hospital, they told the nurses what was in the packages and conferred over what presents to give to which young patient. Then, with the nurses’ permission and guidance, they traveled en masse into each child’s room, each time surprising the child and an anxious mother with a pile of gifts.
"The kids are anxious, but we are trying to get them well enough to go home," said Lara Leighton, the charge nurse on duty.
Hans Adé Larsen, bravely smiling despite an IV in his hand, perked up and even seemed downright excited once the group started giving him toys.
"How wonderful that they’ve come to the pediatric ward," said his mother, Amanda Sackey. "I’m a woman with Virgin Islands pride, and this has given me a new respect for our government officials and the hospital staff. I had no idea they did this."
Democratic Party Vice Chairman Raymond Williams said this is the fifth year the party has been coming to the hospital on Christmas. Along with Barnes, Christensen, Sanes and Williams were Sanes’ daughter Jamaris Washshah, party secretary Wanda Morris, Angeli Ferdscheider and Malcolm McGregor.