University Hospitals virtual Santa visit. (Photograph courtesy of University Hospitals)

For children who are hospitalized, gathering at home with family and friends around the holidays just isn’t possible. Nevertheless, local hospitals do their best to bring the joy of the season into their lives. Surrounded by bright, colorful lights and festive decorations, with gift-giving, well-wishes and other fun activities planned, hospital volunteers, staff and donors help to bring smiles and good cheer to pediatric patients.
University Hospitals
The University Hospitals Child Life team offers many holiday experiences for patients and families.
Children can receive a virtual visit with St. Nick called “Santa Connection” and enjoy a winter wonderland experience where parents and caregivers can complete a “wish list” for their child. UH staff will “shop” and volunteers will festively wrap the gifts.
The gifts come primarily from donations the hospital receives at the annual Holiday Donation Drop-off event at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, 2101 Adelbert Road. This year’s event takes place Saturday, December 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
From Play-Doh to Candyland to colored markers, the smallest donation can make a big difference for pediatric patients this holiday season. This year there is a particular need for infant and toddler toys. Check out the full “wish list” thoughtfully assembled by the
Child Life team at
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, donations must be brand new and unwrapped to be accepted. Online registration is required to accommodate physical distancing at the event. Please select a time slot as soon as possible if able to donate:
UH Rainbow staff members will be outside to help unload vehicles. Masks are required. Questions? Call 216.286.4483 or email
In addition, “Operation Santa Sleigh,” takes place December 23, at 8 p.m. This parade of first responder vehicles driving past the hospitals with their lights flashing creates a dazzling sight for patients.
The Cleveland Clinic
Pediatric patients at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital will experience the magic of the holidays through a virtual visit with Santa.
On December 15, live from the North Pole, “Video Santa” will make virtual visits with young patients on the main campus and Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation, through video conference calls displayed on an iPad. Through the power of technology, Santa will be able to speak to children of all ages with various medical conditions from the comfort of their hospital rooms.
Ronald McDonald House and volunteer donors provide Thanksgiving and Christmas to-go meals to families of hospitalized infants and children at MetroHealth Hospital.
Toys and gifts will be delivered to hospitalized children on Christmas Day by the ChildLife Department and/or Santa Claus – depending on COVID numbers. This is made possible by volunteer donations.
Sleep sacks and comforting, calming videos will be distributed to first-time mothers in postpartum delivery, all made possible by a grant from the March of Dimes and The Anthem Foundation.