HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - It was a magical morning for a group of young hospital patients, thanks to some dedicated officers who took the time to bring presents — and plenty of smiles — just before Christmas.
An eight-year tradition continued on Christmas Eve, as the Miramar Police Department unloaded hundreds of toys and gifts for the children at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood.
“I had a daughter at this hospital, and there were organizations that did the same thing for us,” said Miramar Police Detective Carlos Villalona. “We spent Christmas, New Year’s in the hospital, and they brought toys to our children.”
The department was inspired to continue blessing others in memory of Adriana Ariana, Villalona’s 20-month-old daughter. The toddler lost her battle with cancer on June 30, 2009.
When asked to describe the moment he delivers Christmas gifts to the young patients, Villalona replied, “You see the light come into their eyes, that ray of hope.”
7News cameras captured the children’s faces lighting up as Santa and Mrs. Claus walked in with gifts in hand and singing carols.
“I was not expecting this today,” said patient Joshua Elijah Freckleton, who was captured giving a fist bump to Old St. Nick.
“I feel like happiness, like very, very happiness,” Joshua said.
Joshua has been in and out of the hospital since birth, and a needed emergency surgery brought him back just days before Christmas.
“We try to make the best of it,” said his mother, Stephanie Freckleton. “This is not our first Christmas being spent in the hospital.”
To know they’re making a difference in these children’s lives is something that fills Miramar Police Chief Dexter Williams with joy. “It’s a special feeling for us to know that, we not only made the children smile, but we made the parents smile as well,” he said.
Hospital officials said this is an extra special time of the year. “We receive donations throughout the year,” said Lourdes Rodriguez, communications manager for Memorial Healthcare System. “If it weren’t for the outpouring of the community, such as the Miramar Police Department, the very many communities that come in, the individuals, we wouldn’t be able to provide something like this to all the kids.”
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