Adopt-a-School: ‘Best Day Ever’

Kid happily squeezing stuffed animal

More than 1,300 students and 70 teachers and staff at Fairview Elementary School in Fairfield and Padan Elementary School in Vacaville celebrated the 2016 holiday season with classroom parties, thanks to generous NorthBay Healthcare employees who step up each year to participate in the Adopt-a-School program.

As she hugged her new teddy bear, a Fairview second-grader summed up her class party: “It‘s the best day ever.”

“For some students, this is the only Christmas they have,” said Sylvia Spanos, Adopt-a-School coordinator. The schools are in low-income areas of their respective communities and teachers often scramble for basic supplies and learning materials. Every classroom had their wishes come true.

NorthBay Medical Center and VacaValley Hospital Diagnostic Imaging department adopted Laura Masterpaul's first-grade class at Fairview and gave her 26 students a day to remember.

Santa surrounded by happy kids

“The kids were totally adorable and so well-behaved,” said Teri Russell, diagnostic imaging supervisor. “We had the kids frosting cookies and they had a blast. We gave the classroom more than the teacher asked for — we felt she didn't ask for enough.” Gifts included school T-shirts for the kids, stuffed animals and loads of books for the classroom.

IT Help Desk's Jeff Walker grew his beard and studied up on the jolly old elf.

“I haven't been hugged and loved this much since my own four kids lived with me,” said Walker, who enchanted several classrooms as Santa. “The first kids that saw me came right up with arms outstretched for a hug. One of his friends asked me suspiciously, ‘Are you REALLY Santa?’ I winked and said, ‘Pull my beard…go ahead.’ Her jaw dropped in wonder as she pulled gently at my real beard. ‘Why isn't it longer?’ she asked. ‘Santa gets hot in the summer,’ I answered simply.”

Very excited kid with cupcake

At Padan, new teacher Natalie Calabrese was overwhelmed with the gifts and graciousness of NorthBay's Patient Access and Communications staff. Not only did the team make all her class's wishes come true, they also serenaded the children with a rocking rendition of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

“I didn't know what to expect,” said Natalie. “It's amazing.”

NorthBay Healthcare first adopted schools for the 2005 holiday season, making this the 12th year for the program.

Santa and his team of elves