"Santa’s Helpers" Hold Huge "Wrapping Party" at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital

Dec 19, 2015

a group of people posing for a photo with santa claus

Santa and Mrs. Claus join the organizers of the "Santa’s Helpers" program, including (from left) Sue Lepore; John Federspiel, President; Denise Pilla; and Maureen DiMaggio. (Organizers missing from photo are Rebecca Bowen and Debbie Petranchik.)

The "Santa’s Helpers" program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor has been brightening the holidays for deserving children in surrounding communities for 21 years.

Each year the Hospital works with the Westchester County Department of Social Services and other social service agencies to obtain holiday "wish lists" from families in need. In turn, Hospital employees forego spending money on holiday gift exchanges in their own departments and instead donate the money to a "Santa’s Helpers" fund.

Every dollar collected goes toward purchasing gifts. This year, volunteers spent $125 each on more than 100 children in the Cortlandt Manor area. Employee volunteers did all the shopping for each child and a family gift also was purchased.

And then all the gifts for the 100-plus children and their families needed to be wrapped! Joining John Federspiel, President of NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital, on December 17th for a huge three-hour wrapping party were employees, physicians, nurses and volunteers.

"Being able to brighten the holidays for these children and their families is one of the major highlights of the holiday season for our employees and me," Mr. Federspiel said.

Mr. Federspiel founded "Santa’s Helpers" in 1994 alongside a team of volunteers and, over the years, the program has raised more than $350,000 to purchase gifts for more than 1,600 Westchester children and their families.

For the "Wrapping Party," rows of tables were arranged in the lobby of the Hospital. Organizers purchased 100 rolls of wrapping paper, 60 rolls of scotch tape, and had up to 60 pairs of scissors on hand. Emery Rodriguez, a Marketing employee, entertained the crowd with holiday songs.

The Hospital’s own Teresa Pizzola of Medical Records was Mrs. Claus, while Santa is also Ed Hess, a retiree from Putnam Valley. The team also spread holiday cheer by visiting patients Thursday afternoon.