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Dogs Comfort Hospitalized Teens/Staff Donate Gifts to Homeless and Refugees

January 06, 2020

Nine canines and ten humans comforted teens in the hospital on Christmas Eve. In an annual holiday visit called 'Santa Paws,' volunteers with the Denver Health Pet Therapy program went from room to room with their furry friends and handed out teddy bears. 

Therapy dogs, which are specially trained comfort animals, are shown to reduce stress, anxiety and pain. The program's 15 dogs visit patients throughout the year at the hospital and family health centers.

Denver Health’s School-based Health Center staff opened their hearts and their wallets to help the homeless. They filled up seven boxes of gifts and collected around $500 monetary at the group’s holiday gathering. All of the donations will go to the Homeless Education Network through Denver Public Schools. The network provides educational support and resources for students experiencing homeless situations. “We are humbled by how many of our staff chose to give this holiday season,” said Cori Depue, school and community programs project specialist.

Hundreds of employees and departments across the organization also donated gifts for refugee families who receive care at the Lowry Family Health Center. Presents filled the cubicles of Denver Health Foundation staff, who delivered the donations to 57 refugee families. “It’s amazing to see our staff members going above and beyond what they’re already doing in their care of patients every day,” said Robin Engleberg of the Denver Health Foundation.

205 photos capture the joy of this year’s Santa Express. Thanks to the Denver Health Foundation’s dedicated staff and generous donors, kids at our Pediatric Urgent Care Center and nine family health centers received more than 15,000 donated presents.

Old Saint Nick also paid a visit to newborn babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In an annual tradition, preemies and their families smiled for the camera with Santa. 

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