Thursday morning about 70 Health First workers, including president and chief executive officer Steve Johnson, were at the Toys R Us in West Melbourne purchasing and loading gifts that soon will be distributed to area youngsters through the South Brevard Sharing Center.
And that is on top of the toy collections for The Salvation Army’s Angel Program made by employees, and members, at Health First’s Pro-Health & Fitness centers.
“You’re drawn to health care because you’re drawn to caring for people,” Johnson said as he prepared to toy shop with the other Health First volunteers.
“This is just another way to care,” he said. “Our hope is that children know their community loves them, that their parents love them, that their families love them.”
Health First pays for the toy collection for the South Brevard Sharing Center through its “Community Benefits” program, which provides charity care for under served and uninsured patients, un-reimbursed expenses to Medicaid patients and other mission-driven community benefit.
Last year Health First invested more than $111 million in community support.
Michael Hubler, executive director of the Melbourne-based South Brevard Sharing Center, said donations and support — like the one Thursday by Health First — grows more important each year, even though the local economy is showing signs of improvement..
“Donations across the board are coming down,” Hubler said, “and it’s just getting tougher and tougher.”
Popular toys on the list collected Thursday were Disney's Frozen items and — aptly enough — toys from the Doc McStuffins line. Also ranking high were Spider-Man, other super heroes, and Lego sets.
This is the second year Health First has partnered with the South Brevard Sharing Center to purchase gifts for area children through the “Children Without Christmas Toy Drive.”
Last year, about 400 gifts were purchased during the event and loaded onto the Sharing Center’s truck. A similar amount is expected this year and the toys will be delivered to children’s parents for wrapping and available before Christmas Day.
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