BEDFORD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — For the past 34 years, a Christmas tree in the lobby at UPMC Bedford has served a more important role then just holiday decor.
Instead of colorful lights or festive ornaments, the decorations on this tree are a bit…warmer.
“We call it the mitten tree,” Jennifer Nouse, the Clinical Director of Nursing and Quality at UPMC Bedford, said.
Back in 1986, the mitten tree looked a little different.
“It has evolving from a board to an actual artificial tree, on which we hang any kind of outer wear donations,” Nouse said.
The items on this tree come in many different shapes, sizes, colors, even animals.UPMC Bedford employees and folks in the community add more and more each day, ranging from hats to shoes.
“We even have a pajama set with warm hat,” Nouse said.
The Faithful Defenders chapter of the Widows Sons, a Masonic Riders Association, takes over as Santa’s elves, delivering the gifts to local kids in the Bedford community.
“We’re a local community hospital, and we are always looking for ways to to give back to the community,” Nouse said.
Last year, they collected more than 200 items and expect this year’s numbers to be even better.
“We never want our children to be cold, we want them to be safe and warm. We want to make sure they have everything they need to say warm and healthy over the winter,” Nouse said.
Donations are being accepted at the hospital until next Monday, December 16th.