Children and families at Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, Virginia, got a special visit from Santa to brighten their holiday spirits with some early Christmas gifts on Thursday afternoon.
Santa arrived in style, escorted by deputies on motorcycles from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
“We collect toys from across all our stations,” explained Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman.
Chapman told WTOP they do this every year, in partnership with the Inova hospital system and Cole’s Closet, a local organization that helps them collect toys to distribute to kids in the pediatric wing during the holidays.
Cole’s Closet donates items to hospitals each year to help children have a more comfortable hospital stay. It was started in Northern Virginia by the family of Cole Tomczyk, who died in infancy years ago of a rare brain disease.
“It’s uplifting for us, it’s uplifting for them, and for their families,” Chapman said of the annual tradition of bringing kids toys. “We are just so happy and proud to be a part of it.”
Inova Loudoun’s president Susan Carroll told WTOP that this year’s partnership was extra special for the community.
“We really want to thank the community because we had a record-breaking year,” Carroll said. “And we collected over 3,000 toys.” Normally, she said they get around 2,000.
“We are so grateful for all of our partnerships, and we really try to focus on the greater good for our community,” she added.
Carroll also said the reaction from families when they received gifts warms her heart.
“Having a child in the hospital, especially this time of year, is never easy,” Carroll reflected. “When Santa walks into a room with a patient and is able to brighten their day just a little bit, and to give them a toy, to make them feel this experience isn’t quite as bad as it has to be — that’s what it’s all about.”
Chapman also added that this year’s success was a testament to the community his department serves.
“Things are a little tougher for folks right now, and we’re still getting more toys,” he beamed. “So it just shows how enthusiastic our community is and how supportive they are of this program.”