Virtual Santa visit, hospital toy store making spirits bright for sick kids

Community, hospital elves help bring holiday traditions to children at U-M Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

Author | Beata Mostafavi

No one wants to spend the holidays at the hospital–especially children.

But thanks to community donations, some of the season’s magic will come to the kids at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Last week’s festivities included a virtual Santa visit at bedside and access to the hospital’s in-house toy store, which provides free, brand-new toys for patient families.

“Children and families who are at the hospital miss out on so many of the season’s traditions, such as seeing Santa,” said Luanne Ewald, FACHE, M.H.A., chief operating officer of Mott and U-M Health Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

“We’re so grateful for the incredible community support that helps us make this time of year special for our Mott families and brings them some holiday cheer during such a stressful time.”

Santa wasn’t able to visit the hospital in person this year due to the recent COVID-19 surge and visitor restrictions, but he found a socially distanced way to see Little Victors – visiting them from the North Pole via Zoom.

Child and Family Life staff took Mr. and Mrs. Claus room to room through an iPad, and children had the chance to share their Christmas list and even take a photo without leaving their hospital beds.

Meanwhile, the eighth-floor activity room was transformed into Santa’s workshop, with shelves lined with potential presents ranging from dolls and makeup to basketballs, stuffed animals, University of Michigan apparel and brand-name games, Legos and puzzles.

Families were able to pick up to five gifts for both the child being treated at the hospital and also their siblings.

The toy store began as an effort to distribute the overwhelming amount of toys and other items donated to the hospital during the holidays and throughout the year by community members.  

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]


Featured News & Stories Toddler Martina smiling.
Philanthropy News
Rallying Together to Support Childhood Cancer Awareness and Research
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time to recognize the impact of pediatric cancer and highlight the importance of research and patient programs.
bottle cap red
Health Lab
Bipolar disorder and alcohol: It’s not as simple as 'self-medication'
People with bipolar disorder have a high risk of alcohol use issues, which have been seen as “self medication,” but a study shows that changes in drinking predict worse symptoms.
blood pressure cuff on mans arm with white coat doctor taking it
Health Lab
Blood pressure high for years? Beware of stroke risk
A study led by Michigan Medicine narrows in on the cumulative effects of years of high systolic blood pressure — the top number on the blood pressure reading and how hard the heart pumps blood to the arteries — finding that a higher average reading during adulthood is linked with a greater risk for the two most common types of stroke.
News Release
Amy Kilbourne named U.S. VA Executive Director of Health Systems Research
Amy Kilbourne, PhD, MPH, Associate Chair for Research and Professor of Learning Health Sciences at U-M Medical School has been appointed Executive Director of Health Systems Research for the U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs Health System, effective June 30, 2024.
medical campus aerial
News Release
Michigan Medicine notifies patients of health information breach
Michigan Medicine is notifying approximately 56,953 individuals about employee email accounts that were compromised, potentially exposing some patient health information.
Text reading "20+ Top-Ranked Residency Programs" next to an image of Michigan Medicine buildings
News Release
U-M has 14 top 10 medical education programs in latest Doximity Residency Navigator
The 2024-25 Doximity Residency Navigator has been released. It shows that U-M has six top 5 medical education programs, with nine more in the top 10 and another nine in the top 25.