Sparkling lights, colourful decorations and festive jingles; Christmas is a special time of the year, and luckily for some of Victoria’s sickest children, The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) is transformed to the most magical place of all thanks to the incredible support of Kmart and their community.
Walking through Main Street of the hospital in December, it’s impossible to miss the incredible, purpose built, nine metre tall Christmas Tree that takes over the atrium. That magic continues through Santa visits and decorations across the wards, brightening the days of staff and families across the hospital. And while medical teams work to get as many patients home in time for Christmas, those who are too unwell to leave wake up on Christmas morning with presents donated by Kmart.
“Kmart’s involvement with the RCH goes back a long way. Initially, we started to donate toys to give to children on Christmas Day. Then, when the hospital opened on the new site in 2011, we got heavily involved in designing and donating the Christmas tree that goes up each year,” said Tracie Walker, General Manager, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Kmart Group.
“We also work with volunteers including the Pied Pipers and the RCH Auxiliaries to decorate the hospital, with over 80 smaller trees and decorations installed on wards and around the hospital, allowing children and families to see a little touch of Christmas no matter where they are,” she added.
This year, together with their partner, Dovecote, Kmart have commissioned a brand new tree celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the original Christmas tree. As well as traditional decorations like lights and baubles, the new tree features specially designed plush animals that move, chirp and sing Christmas carols every hour.
“Staff at the hospital always tell us not to underestimate the relief that the tree, decorations and gifts bring to everyone in the hospital. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it is pure joy and light, especially in a time that can be very dark for patients and their families,” said Tracie.
Sue Hunt, Chief Executive Officer, the RCH Foundation said that the support from Kmart and other generous donors allows Christmas to come alive across campus.
“For the past 10 years, Kmart have gone above and beyond to bring joy to every single child who comes through the hospital doors during December, as well as those patients who are too unwell to go home for Christmas Day,” said Sue.
“These children and young people are the most sick and vulnerable in Victoria, so having the Christmas tree, presents and decorations allows them to still have the joy of Christmas, even though they aren’t able to go home. It also brings so much joy to the parents. Christmas is such an important time of year for families, so being able to show their children that Santa still comes even though you are in hospital, that means so much for them,” she added.