BOGOTA – Hospitalized children and adults, along with seniors in a Bogota nursing home, were surprised on Thursday by a group of local firefighters who – some outfitted as Santa Claus and riding on the ladders of their firetrucks, delivered gifts to them through the windows of their upper-story rooms to celebrate Christmas.
The kids and adults were confined to their beds at the Simon Bolivar Hospital, La Misericordia Foundation Children’s Hospital and the Emaus Senior Center in the Colombian capital.
Colombia this year is having an unusual Christmas season due to the restrictions imposed by the government amid the spike in coronavirus cases.
Bogota Fire Chief Diego Moreno told EFE that the 250 presents were donated by the firefighters themselves as well as by people working in the administrative section of the Fire Department.
He said that what the firemen were hoping to do was to provide “a little bit of Christmas joy (to the gift recipients). We believe that it’s very difficult not to be able to go home when someone has a health situation.”
Moreno said that delivering the gifts through the upper windows of the hospitals and the elderly care facility was something that other firefighters around the world have done and now Bogota personnel have adopted the practice to – among other things – maintain social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in 1,544,826 confirmed cases and 41,174 deaths in Colombia, at last count.
The fire chief also emphasized the cooperation of doctors, nurses and administrative personnel at the hospitals so that the firefighters could carry out their project, all the while abiding by safety protocols.
A nurse at Simon Bolivar Hospital said that she became emotional seeing the “happiness of the children in each of the rooms when Papa Noel visited them with their gifts.”
With recommendations to the public to spend a quiet Christmas, Moreno also urged people to continue abiding by all the appropriate safety precautions to avoid accidents.
He emphasized that people should not place lit candles near flammable materials, insisting that gunpowder and fireworks not be used in the holiday celebrations which, besides damaging the environment also adversely affect animals, especially pets.
The National Health Institute last Monday reported that as of Dec. 20 a total of 250 people, including 146 children, had been burned amid such activities so far this month in Colombia.
The provinces where the largest numbers of people suffering such burns have been registered are Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Cauca, Tolima, Valle del Cauca and Bolivar.