Hampton VA Medical Center
The Christmas Shop a Long Standing Tradition
Holidays are filled with traditions that are passed from one generation to the next. For hospitalized Veterans, it is hard to maintain some of those traditions. Giving gifts to family and loved ones can be especially difficult for inpatient Veterans.
Each year, to help Veterans with their holiday traditions, members of local American Legion Auxiliary units open The Christmas Shop at the Hampton VA Medical Center. The shop has been an annual tradition for inpatient Veterans at the medical center for 43 years. Anna Gear, voluntary service representative from the American Legion Auxiliary has been coordinating the American Legion volunteers who run the shop since 1969.
American Legion Auxiliary units from the Hampton Roads area come together for several weeks to help Veterans with their gift giving tradition.
“The week before we open The Christmas Shop, we survey the inpatient Veterans,” said Gear. “We go around to the Community Living Center, Domiciliary and inpatient wards ~ talk with Veterans so they can tell us what was on their holiday wish list.”
Traditionally, holiday wish lists were sent to the North Pole so Santa Claus and his elves would know what children wanted under the tree. These holiday wish lists are different, they are a lists of gifts that inpatient Veterans would like to give to their family members.
“It fills me with joy to be able to give something to my family,” said Yvonne Washington. “Without The Christmas Shop, I couldn’t give anything to my family this year.”
The Christmas Shop is a way for Veterans to make sure that their families are remembered during the holidays.
Gear explained that it takes us about 3 days to get the shop ready. All of the gifts are neatly placed on tables that are organized by age groups. All of the clothing is displayed on racks for the Veterans to select their gifts.
“After they finish picking their gifts, we wrap the presents and get them into the mail,” said Gear. “There is absolutely no cost to the Veteran. Most families will get their gifts the week before Thanksgiving all wrapped and labeled. It is a wonderful holiday tradition.”