Operation Santa: Children's Hospital Patients Shop for Families

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By Crandall Sims

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- Thursday, Santa left the North Pole for Columbia and landed on the 4th floor of the Palmetto Health Children's Hospital.

Santa and a few helpers were on hand to bring smiles to faces of patients and their families.

"They want to be a normal kid, they want to be a normal kid who gets to go shopping and gets to open gifts on Christmas morning," says Sally Wilkes, Child Life Specialist at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital.

The event, dubbed 'Operation Santa,' allows the children currently being treated at the hospital to pick out a gift for those they love the most.

"I picked out 2 gifts for my Mom," says Angel Gibson, hospital patient.

Angel Gibson is 18 years old, she tells us she's been here for two days no but hopes to be home for Christmas with her family.

"My brother just got engaged and he's bringing his fiance down with him, so we are all going to be together," says Gibson.

But for now, she's celebrating the gift of being able to give her own mom a present.

"She's always spending for others, so it's time for us to spoil her too," says Gibson.

Angels isn't alone, several children stopped by Thursday to pick out gifts for siblings, parents and grandparents.

"We've got a couple of different blankets so if the kids want to curl up on the couch with Mom and Dad they can," says Emily Stow of Mid Carolina Electric Cooperative.

Stowe says they are proud to be a part of the event. MCEC has partnered with Palmetto Health for 14 yars to make this possible.

"Christmas is a time for giving and so that's why we help bring the giving to them," says Stowe.

And stowe says they enjoy spreading the true meaning for the season.

"For us, Christmas is about Jesus Christ and the giving of his son," says Stowe.

And for those who help make the children here better, it's a day full of smiles.

"Sometimes it's the first time you see them be themselves, see them be a normal child while they are here," says Wilkes.

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