Red Cross Spreads Holiday Cheer at Walter Reed Bethesda

Story Number: NNS111215-30Release Date: 12/15/2011 4:11:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John K. Hamilton, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda (WRNMMC) and the Red Cross will hold a holiday party Dec. 16, to help spread cheer to the staff, patients, and volunteers.

The Red Cross will also host a holiday gift bag giveaway at the hospital for the wounded warriors and inpatients of the hospital.

"It's going to be a bit of a big deal," said Kathleen Kelly, Red Cross Bethesda Chapter assistant station manager. "There will be plenty of food and holiday decorations. We have planned for about 250 people, and we have invited all the wounded, ill and injured warriors, and their families."

Kelly said any hospital staff member who wants to stop by the party will not be turned away.

"We have about 50 volunteers who are helping with the preparation plus working the party on Friday," she added.

In addition, the Red Cross will be handing out gift bags to patients on the wards during the holidays.

"We are doing something a little bit different with handing out Christmas bags since the [integration] of Walter Reed and Bethesda as one brand new hospital," Kelly said.

Instead of doing only holiday bags and presents for wounded warrior and pediatric inpatients, which totaled around 150 between the two areas last year, this year every inpatient will receive a gift bag. This raises the estimated total number of gift bags to about 800.

"We like organizing events for our service members and volunteers," said Felecia Chavez, assistant station manager for the Red Cross at WRNMMC. "We have a lot of volunteers here, and we want to give them a little Christmas cheer and to say thank you. Without our volunteers, we wouldn't have a program."

Kelly said the gift bags will be "full of donated items including mugs, pens, crossword puzzles, phone cards and gift cards - things we get asked for on a daily basis."

She said gift bags for pediatrics inpatients will have "kid-friendly" items.

"We are busy 365 days a year, and people are very giving during the holiday season," Kelly said. "This is how we support the men and women in the hospital and their families."

"I think being a volunteer here at Walter Reed Bethesda is an honor and a privilege, and our Red Cross volunteers take that very seriously,"
said Chavez.

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