This past Saturday was rainy, dreary, busy… and yet, in the parking lot and waiting room of 700 Oglethorpe, still filled with joy. A day of celebration and Christmas Spirit was shared by volunteers and patients who came together to experience true community in what Mercy Health Center called its first annual “Christmas Tree Exchange.”
Spear headed by a University of Georgia Intern, Carlin Bailey, Mercy collaborated with a nonprofit organization named “Christmas Tree Santas” to give Christmas trees to 70 low-income families. Patients were asked to bring a gift for the Council on Aging’s “Be a Santa to a Senior” community Christmas program as part of the Christmas exchange. The concept of creating meaningful exchange was birthed out of the board and staffs experience reading, “Toxic Charity,” a book written by Bob Lupton.
Volunteers and community members associated with Mercy made the event a special Christmas celebration by donating ornaments for all 70 trees, cookies, and hot beverages. There was even a guest musical performance from Mercy’s own, Jason Harwell.
To top the day off, Santa Clause visited the clinic for the day! He spent extra time with each child who came with their family to pick up a Christmas tree. The surprising, and beautiful thing is – Santa is also a patient at Mercy Health Center. [Who knew Santa doesn’t have health insurance!?].
Mercy’s Christmas Tree Exchange was a huge success. Thank you to everyone who was involved!