GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - 'Tis the season for sniffles, fevers, and the dreaded flu. Some future doctors have come up with a remedy to help comfort young patients who are feeling a bit under the weather during the holidays. On Friday, they showed up a Gulfport clinic to surprise every child who came through the doors.
Members of the Student Osteopathic Medical Association at William Carey College delivered 97 stuffed animals to the Coastal Family Health Center in Gulfport.
"Of course, everybody loves a teddy bear," said SOMA Member Kristen Roberson.
As each child walked in to see the doctor or for other services, he or she received a fuzzy friend to keep.
"That's your very own teddy bear," another student told a girl as she handed her a toy. "There you go, yeah!"
When asked what she thought about her teddy bear, four-year-old Selena Hernandez replied, "Good."
"We thought that was awesome! Some of the population that we serve are either low income or no income. So it's Christmas time, and it's hard for everybody," said Kristy Winder, Coastal Family Health Center Practice Manager. "I'm kind of nervous, excited, and kind of happy for the patients. A little extra gift that they'll receive for Christmas."
"I just saw that these kids really needed that light. I worked here for month, got to know the kids really well, thought I saw a great opportunity here," said SOMA Member Alexis Cates.
The medical students also dropped-in on some patients in the exam rooms. Four-year-old Bryson Carson enjoyed his gift so much, he gave a stuffed Santa toy a free check-up.
"Say 'Ah,'" he told the toy Santa.
"Oh, it's wonderful! It's great to know that you're being able to make a part of somebody's holiday season a little brighter when they're not in such great health as you are. So it's fantastic," said Kristen.
Thee huggable toys gave the children a dose of comfort to help make those aches and pains a bit more 'bearable.'
"Big hug! Oh, Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas to you too, Teddy," Cates told a little girl.
The toy donation is part of a regional campaign called "Bears That Care." With about 300 pediatric patients coming into the center every month, those teddy bears may be gone by the end of next week.