For families with sick babies and kids, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time. At Seattle Children’s, staff, volunteers, family members and the community find creative ways to bring the holidays to the hospital.

Here’s a sampling of some of their efforts this year:

HAM’ing it up with Santa Claus

Staff at Children’s have a unique connection to the man at the North Pole. With the help of a HAM radio, patients tell Santa their Christmas wishes and ask their most pressing questions.

For instance, “How do you come down the peoples’ chimneys?”

Santa’s answer: “Well I tell ya, it gets a little tough. There are fewer and fewer chimneys. Sometimes I have to come in through the bathrooms through the vent pipes that they have.”

NICU family decorates their baby’s room

Everett resident Spencer Peeler was born at just 25 weeks, and has spent nearly three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit receiving care.

To celebrate Spencer’s first Christmas, his parents colorfully decorated his room, which has brought holiday cheer to staff, families and others.

Spencer’s mom Joanna said, “It’s his first Christmas whether we’re here or at home… we want it to be special.”

Community provides red wagons, model airplanes and more to patients

Caring community members make sure that families spending the holidays in the hospital have something to smile about – whether it’s a red wagon, a model airplane, or a colorful quilt.

Teen Mac Mowat sold books and with the proceeds bought 12 red wagons for patients. Middle schooler Kaia Grobstok had a holiday party to collect toys and other items for Children’s patients. Mac, Kaia and their families explain the inspiration and dedication that went into their thoughtful gifts.

Liz Leroy, mom of two young boys who recently brought gifts to patients, said, “I brought the kids in today just because I think it’s an important part to show that, especially this time of year, that giving back is just as important as getting.”

Volunteering is a family tradition

For this family, volunteering is a way of life, and a source of joy during the holidays.

Mom Shalawn Leahy and daughters Tara and Tiffany share what brought them to Children’s and what keeps them coming back.

“I have epilepsy, and I wanted to give back because they saved my life three times. It brings me joy,” Tara said, adding “The kids… are so amazing to be with.”