WILLIAMSON — On an ordinary day, the sight of a Healthnet helicopter landing at the Williamson Memorial Hospital (WMH) would mean only one thing, that a patient was critical and required the expertise care of a trauma center or critical care hospital.
On Tuesday however, children and adults alike were patiently waiting on the helicopter’s arrival, since their passengers were none other than Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and his chief elf, “Paj.”
April Toler Mullins, an RN with WMH, coordinated and headed up the festive day that she’s hopeful will become an annual event for the hospital and Healthnet Aeromedical Services. Toler has spearheaded the 2012 WMH toy drive and has been working diligently alongside numerous dedicated volunteers to raise money and collect donate toys that will be used to provide a joyous Christmas for needy youth in Mingo County.
“Our employees adopted approximately 500 kids last year and bought the items they put on their wish list for Christmas, but with the economy in the downhill slide that it is this year and more and more people out of work, we decided to team up with the local communities to see if they would join us in donating toys or making a donation that would be used to make the purchases,” stated Mullins.
“Paul Conley, a Paramedic with Healthnet Aeromedical Services that is bases out of the Big Sandy Regional Airport heard about what we were trying to do and contacted me, saying they would like to participate, and needless to say, we were ecstatic at the offer! They brought a huge garbage bag of new toys with them today and we can’t tell them how very much we appreciate their efforts.”
Conley, who was accompanied by Flight Nurse Melisha White and Pilot Rodney Cox, told the Daily News that this is the first time he has taken part in such a venture but said he definitely doesn’t want it to be his last.
“We loved seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces when they saw us flying Santa in today,” said Conley. “We feel that it’s very important to give back to the communities in a different manner than what we do as professionals every day. Children everywhere deserve a great Christmas and it’s been our pleasure to have played a part in that happening here in Mingo County.”
The childen of WMH employees were given a chance to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas, and were treated to a gift and a delicious snack that included Santa’s all-time favorite treat – milk and cookies.
“We’re still collecting presents for our toy drive and we would greatly appreciate anyone that can, helping us out by purchasing a boy or girl toy for any age group from 6 months to 12 years of age and dropping it by either the hospital lobby, the Williamson Daily News on 2nd Avenue in Williamson, TMK Securities on U.S. 119 near the Lenore exit or the Larry Joe Harless Center in Gilbert,” stated Mullins. “We need to have everything collected in no later than Tuesday, December 11th so that we’ll have time to get it all wrapped and delivered. If you wish to donate and you don’t have transportation or you’re unable to get to one of our drop-off locations, give us a call and we’ll make arrangements to come and pick it up, if at all possible.”
For more information on the WMH Christmas Toy Drive, you may contact Mullins by calling 304-899-6370, 304-475-3551 or 304-784-4459.