Christmas stocking gifts due by December 13

Erin Mullins

This year, the Share a Stocking program, which is run by North Big Horn Hospital, will help nearly 200 kids by providing them with clothes, shoes and Christmas presents.
Around 170 kids from 55 families will be helped by the program, said Janet Koritnik, who is the marketing, foundation and grants coordinator for the hospital. Families in need are nominated through the schools or people who are aware of an eligible family. Each child is provided with clothes and a Christmas gift personalized to each child’s interests, Koritnik said.
The deadline to turn the stockings into the hospital is Wednesday, Dec. 13, at around 5 p.m., she said.
Children from birth to age 18 who are in the hospital service area are eligible, which includes Deaver and Frannie, Koritnik said. The hospital coordinates with regional Toys for Tots programs to make sure all families are served as well as making sure there are no duplicate families for gifts.
“It’s a real community effort. We make stockings for each child. It all remains confidential, but each stocking has, like, a number. And they have the child’s age and what size of clothes they need or what kind of toys they like, whatever it might be. And then whether it’s a girl or boy,” she said.
The families participating in the program fill out the information about their children, including what gift they want, she said. While younger kids are more interested in fun toys like Silly Putty or princess gear, older kids tend to want items like headphones, makeup or a game.
Different community members take those stockings, fulfill the wishes of the child and then bring the wrapped gifts back to the hospital, Koritnik said. While some people go all out and buy numerous outfits or fancy toys, the recommended limit for the Christmas gift is around $30, and only one outfit is needed.
The 170 kids result in 340 stockings, she said, because each child gets both an outfit and a wish list item. It takes the work of individuals, families and businesses to provide stockings to every child. Besides stockings, monetary donations are also welcome.
Christmas surprises are not just for kids. Through a separate program, each resident of New Horizons Care Center will get a gift from a community member this holiday season, Koritnik said. Similarly, stockings are picked up from the hospital, gifts are bought and wrapped, and then the gift is returned to the Care Center.
While most residents have family, some do not, which is why it is important to provide for every senior at the care center, she said. Santa passes around the gifts to each resident right before Christmas.
For those who are still interested in giving a gift to a child in need through the stocking program, there are around 12 stockings remaining on the tree in the clinic lobby, Koritnik said.
One final philanthropy program that runs through the Chamber of Commerce, the hospital and the local schools is the community coat drive program, she said. Residents are invited to donate new or slightly used clean coats in all sizes, both for children and adults.
While the program’s original concept sought out all-weather coats, there is a larger community need, Koritnik said.
“As time has gone on, we tend to get some sweatshirts and that sort of thing. But sometimes people absolutely take those,” she said. “Some of the workers, like at plants and stuff here, they just want a lighter jacket, too. So, if anything is in good condition, we certainly can take it and hopefully use it.”
Coats intended for donation can be dropped off at local schools, the hospital or the Chamber of Commerce. Those who are interested in a jacket can pick one up at the Chamber of Commerce, which is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.