Presents for Patients keeps creating smiles for nursing home residents

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

Gov. Tom Corbett wrapped up the 2012 Presents for Patients campaign by giving a book about Hawaii to Lois Siess, 84, of The Arbors at St. Barnabas in Valencia.

Years ago, Siess and her late husband, Dick, visited Hawaii on a trip they received as a surprise gift from her brother.

Married 60 years, the couple raised three children and worshipped at Parkwood United Presbyterian Church in Hampton.

“This is what the holiday season is all about — being able to bring some joy and a smile to friends, family and loved ones,” said Corbett. “The Presents for Patients program ensures that nursing home residents get a gift in person on the holidays, which can mean so much at this time of year.”

Corbett, wearing a light blue lei, gave Siess his gift — “Hawaii: A Pictorial Celebration” by Ellie Crowe, with photography by Elan Penn — during a Hawaiian-style Christmas party Dec. 27 in The Crystal Conservatories on the Valencia campus of the St. Barnabas Health System.

Guests dined on tropical refreshments while listening to music by Tuika.

Corbett presented the final Presents for Patients gift of 2012.

The 2012 Presents for Patients campaign served a record-setting 30,829 patients at 357 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in six states, according to Shelli Sommariva, spokeswoman for the St. Barnabas Health System, based in Richland Township.

William Day, president of the St. Barnabas Health System, founded Presents for Patients in 1984 to ensure that people remember local nursing-home residents at Christmas.

Presents for Patients now coordinates gift givers and recipients in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

The goal is to spark a smile on the face of somebody in a nursing home or similar facility with a personally delivered gift.

Sometimes the gift is a group-sponsored party with refreshments and entertainment.

At Wexford Elementary School in Pine, Rachel Zimmerman's 21 kindergarteners planned a party for an “adopted” patient at Paramount Senior Living at Cranberry.

They also used colored markers to write their names on a gift sweatshirt.

Since 1984, more than 460,000 residents of nursing homes, personal-care homes and assisted-living facilities have received visits and gifts through Presents for Patients.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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