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Halloween arrives early for patients at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach

Hospitalized children experience spooky fun while creating art

Michaels+employee+Kim+Johnson+delivers+one+of+250+Starlight+Packs+filled+with+arts-and-crafts+supplies+to+patient+Kaylee+in+a+%E2%80%9Creverse+trick-or-treat%E2%80%9D+as+part+of+the+first+%E2%80%9CDream+Halloween%E2%80%9D+event+at+Miller+Children%E2%80%99s+%26+Women%E2%80%99s+Hospital+Long+Beach+Oct.+22.
Michaels employee Kim Johnson delivers one of 250 Starlight Packs filled with arts-and-crafts supplies to patient Kaylee in a “reverse trick-or-treat” as part of the first “Dream Halloween” event at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach Oct. 22.

Michaels employee Kim Johnson delivers one of 250 Starlight Packs filled with arts-and-crafts supplies to patient Kaylee in a “reverse trick-or-treat” as part of the first “Dream Halloween” event at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach Oct. 22.

Photo by Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

Photo by Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

Michaels employee Kim Johnson delivers one of 250 Starlight Packs filled with arts-and-crafts supplies to patient Kaylee in a “reverse trick-or-treat” as part of the first “Dream Halloween” event at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach Oct. 22.

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Juana Castellanos sits on the side of the playroom smiling as she watches her daughter Kelly, 10, laughing at the dancing skeleton she had just crafted. This was their second day at the hospital, where Kelly had to undergo an emergency appendectomy after she began experiencing abdominal pain at school.

Kelly Perez Castellanos and her hospital roommate Shakira Osborne had an opportunity to play with arts and crafts, provided by the Starlight Children’s Foundation and Michaels, at the first “Dream Halloween” event at Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach Oct. 22.

The Starlight Foundation is an “organization whose mission is to create moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized children and their families,” according to a press release last week. The foundation, along with arts-and-crafts retail chain Michaels, also prepared 250 “Starlight Packs,” filled with art supplies and toys, which were distributed to patients who were too sick to come to the playroom that day.

“I think it’s great to have [Kelly] here, rather than her laying in bed, depressed,” Castellanos said. “She was throwing up, and the school called me to pick her up. Luckily, I got her to the hospital in time for them to detect it before [her appendix] burst.”

Photo by Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
Patients Shakira Osborne (left) and Kelly Perez Catellanos (right) play with arts and crafts, with assistance from Michaels staff members Casey Noel Davis (far left) and Hannah Davis (far right), at the first “Dream Halloween” event at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach Oct. 22.

Regarding the hospital’s playroom, Castellanos, a mother of 5, said, “[Kelly] is very happy here. If I need to go home for whatever reason, I’m confident that she will be fine here. The kids are happy, which makes me happy. I think it’s great that they have this area and these activities here.”

Hospital volunteers and employees were on-hand to assist the patients in the playroom.

Photo by Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
Kelly Perez Catellanos, 10, plays with some arts and crafts, with assistance from Michaels staff member Hannah Davis, at the first “Dream Halloween” event at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach Oct. 22.

“This is the first year we are doing this, which is really nice,” said Arthur Noche, child-life specialist at Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital. “We try our best to have events to normalize the kids’ hospital experience, especially during the holidays. We have special events and visitors at least once a week and bigger events like this one usually once a month.”

Noche said the playroom popular with patients.

“Sometimes they don’t even want to get discharged from the hospital because of the activities we do,” he said.

Andrea Fernandez, a volunteer at the hospital, and Kim Johnson, a Michaels employee, handed out the Starlight Packs to patients in what they called a “reverse-trick-or-treating.”

Fernandez, who has volunteered at the hospital for six months, said, “It feels good to make a difference. It brings happiness to the patients, and it’s rewarding. It helps them forget what they’re going through for a bit.”

Johnson added, “ I love it. I think it’s amazing. It is kind of hard to see them, knowing they will be here for a while, but at least this brings them joy.”

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Halloween arrives early for patients at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach