The Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach makes the hospital experience a more positive one by planning activities and events that help children adjust to their hospital stay and maintain their normal, daily childhood activities.

Part of a normal childhood is participating in holiday traditions, such as trick-or-treating, sharing a Thanksgiving meal or even making a trip to visit Santa. Each year, the Child Life Program at Miller Children’s & Women’s plans special events so that hospitalized children don’t miss out on these cherished traditions.

But COVID-19 changed that. Hospital events were canceled and visitation was restricted to just one parent at a time to ensure the safety of patients, their families and employees.

After learning about the challenges hospitals were facing, the Bandai Foundation reached out to Miller Children’s & Women’s to offer support. The Bandai Foundation has been a long-time supporter of Miller Children’s & Women’s, previously awarding grants to expand its Hospital School Program and Music Therapy Program, as well as volunteering at holiday events over the last several years. 

The Bandai Foundation donated $7,500 to support the Child Life Program’s efforts to make the holidays memorable for hospitalized children – in light of event cancellations. Their donation made it possible for the Child Life Program to purchase holiday decorations that patients could use in their own rooms for Halloween and Christmas.

“For their safety, patients must stay in their room, so we wanted to find a way to help them make that space fun,” says Rita Goshert, director, Child Life Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “During Halloween and Christmas, we were able to provide each patient with a bag full of goodies and decorations, so they could personalize their room. It not only made their room feel less isolating, but gave them an activity that took their mind off their treatments.”

Their donation also funded pumpkin and holiday ornament decorating contests for patients, 75 individually wrapped Thanksgiving meals for families and two virtual events that were broadcasted directly to each patient room through a closed-circuit television station at Miller Children’s & Women’s.

“This year was unlike any other,” says Goshert. “We had to come up with unique and creative ways to brighten the spirits of our patients, while keeping them safe. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Bandai Foundation. We’re touched by their thoughtfulness and so grateful for the support they have shown us over the years, but especially this year when we needed it most.” 

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