Over the years of driving up and down the mountain to our clinic, Cherlie and I have acquired many new friends, most of whom are the “under three foot tall” variety! One of the Haitian men who worked with us in our early years fondly called them “little mice” because they would scurry out from the trees or their houses to wave and tell us “bye-bye” as we passed by in our jeep. One of them was given the nickname “pant-less wonder” by a group of teenage visitors because he never wore underwear as he ran down by the creek to greet us morning and afternoon. He’s actually one of our patients and we have been keeping him supplied with underwear and shorts to protect his newfound modesty.

A recent group of visitors (see previous blog) kindly assisted us in this year’s version of Santa’s workshop, putting clothing and toys from drums we had in storage into plastic gift bags. They included toothbrushes and toothpaste, Beanie babies, coloring books and crayons, little toy cars and small dolls, hair ribbons, bows and barrettes, soap, pencils and, of course, underwear, socks, shorts, t-shirts and pillowcase dresses. Supplies that had been sent down to us by other organizations quickly found their way into the gift bags. Plastic totes with underwear, dresses, toothbrushes and toothpaste were emptied. Toy cars that I had put away in my office to give to my favorite patients were surreptitiously commandeered. Nothing was safe except needles in the Emergency Room. Toys, clothes and hygiene supplies. What an awesome combination!

Socks and underwear are organized on the floor of the residence, which quickly became transformed into the Packing Center

 

Toys, crayons and coloring books are organized in Santa’s workshop

 

Filled gift bags sit on the floor of the residence, waiting for distribution

 

Unfortunately for our visitors, but nice for our own egos came the time for gift bag distribution. Santa’s time had come. Christmas was less than a week away, these children had suffered through a devastating hurricane and their parents had no means to make their Christmas a merry one. It was time to step up and fill Santa’s large shoes. In a more serious vein, it was also time to put our faith in action. It’s not always enough to give health; sometimes it’s necessary to give hope. And, we figured there was nothing better to restore hope than these pretty white gift bags.

But, we had a problem. “How could we do this fairly and in good order?” we wondered. Well, it turned out to be easier than we expected. Our staff let the children in the area know what day we were coming and we also spoke with several parents and told them to come down to the road with their children for a big surprise! Over the course of three days, we distributed over 100 Christmas gift bags to our little friends.

First group to receive their gifts live down by the creek below the clinic. They are our most ardent “wavers”, rarely missing a chance to say “bye-bye”

 

“Pant-less wonder” in the blue shirt is now clothed most days. When he’s not, he hides behind a tree to wave hello.

 

Shy little boy on his way home with his gift bag

 

A large group of children were waiting down the mountain. Were we ever glad we had a lot of bags! Santa’s helpers were awesome!

 

The following day was a late one for us, since we had a Staff Meeting after we finished with our patient care. It was nearly dark when we arrived at the distribution sites, but our friends were patiently and hopefully waiting for us.

Even in the dark, there were some pretty wide smiles.

 

The gift bags are bulging and the children’s patience was rewarded.

 

Our final day of gift distribution was organized to be sure we covered the children who had not yet received gifts. The little boy in the green shirt in the photo below giggled as he looked in his bag. He was delighted and couldn’t wait to dig in.

Smiles abound as these boys pose for a photo. There were lots of giggles that day!

 

A little boy with a big smile

 

We want to thank everyone who contributed clothing, toys, Beanie babies, dental supplies, plastic bags, labels and other supplies that went into making this holiday gift distribution a tremendous success. I think there will be some very happy little souls putting their heads down to sleep this Christmas night. Thank you and God bless!

 

 

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