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Merry and bright: Special visitors spread holiday cheer at OHSU Doernbecher

Portland Trailblazers, Portland Winterhawks, Healing Hunter Foundation and many more bring holiday spirit to young patients, families unable to leave the hospital
Spirit Mountain toy delivery
Representatives from Spirit Mountain Casino, including marketing director Shawna Ridgebear (right) deliver a eleven pallets of new toys to Doernbecher Children's Hospital, December 19, 2016. This is the 9th year of Spirit Mountain's toy donation program.(OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

As Perry Como once sang, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.”

For many young patients and families across Oregon and Southwest Washington, home is not a possibility this holiday season. Instead, they will celebrate the magic of Christmas at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

“Hospital stays can be extremely stressful, scary and isolating,” said Sandy Westfall, Child Life Therapy Program manager at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “There is no question that these feelings increase over the holidays when our patients aren’t able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season with friends and family.”

Healing Hunter Foundation Trollabration
Lenore Davis-Thawley (left) encourages volunteers to don colorful Troll wigs as they decorate. The OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital oncology unit was decorated as a Trolls Winter Wonderland by volunteers from the Healing Hunter Foundation, December 2, 2016. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

To help alleviate stress and liven the spirit of the season, throughout the month of December OHSU Doernbecher welcomes a host of local volunteers and organizations who deliver their version of holiday cheer to patients, families and staff.

“We spent a lot of time at OHSU Doernbecher over the holidays,” said Lenore Davis-Thawley, founder of The Healing Hunter Foundation. Davis-Thawley started the HHF after her 3-year-old son lost his courageous battle with cancer. For the past six years, she and HHF volunteers have decked the halls of the OHSU Doernbecher oncology unit with festive flare.

“The care and compassion from others -- both in and outside of the hospital – is what got our family through that difficult time,” Davis-Thawley recalls. “We wanted to pass along that feeling by bringing the hospital to life and helping families forget about what they are going through. Just knowing that someone is thinking about you helps tremendously. These decorations are meant to be a daily reminder of that.”

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