A family waiting room at the Sanford Children's Hospital turned into a makeshift North Pole, complete with Santa and his little helpers. Those helpers are Sioux Falls Firefighters who gathered toys for children spending at least part of the holidays in a hospital.
"They'd rather be at home, but they're stuck in the hospital. So it's our way to help Santa out, bring some toys and help some kids smile," firefighter Paul Stratmeyer said.
One of the first stops on this trip is a visit to 17-year-old Rozalind Vanden Bosch. She's in the hospital for testing as she deals with stomach acid. She thought the firefighters would just help those younger than her.
"Santa came in with the police and firefighters and they brought me some gifts and an ornament. So it was nice to brighten up the day while staying here," Vanden Bosch said.
For Vanden Bosch, the gift is a bit full circle as she's spent some of her down time wrapping gifts for other families. She's thankful for the visit.
"It was nice because it was better than just sitting here and brings a little joy to it," Vanden Bosch said.
Santa and the firefighters made many more stops on their rounds through the hospital. Buying and matching gifts for all the young patients is quite a chore.
"It's a lot of work putting this together, but once you come to the hospital and see the kids' faces and how much everyone enjoys this event, it makes it all worthwhile," Stratmeyer said.
And that's what this holiday season is all about.
In addition to their time at Sanford Children's Hospital, the firefighters started their morning at Avera and also brought gifts to the Children's Care Hospital and School.