Raised locally, the funds will be used to create a healing courtyard for pediatric patients and their families

There’s more to providing quality, compassionate care to the children in the community at South Texas Health System Children’s. The hospital provides healing beyond the medical. Through its Child Life Department, STHS Children’s helps reduce the stress and anxiety associated with hospitalization and illness for pediatric patients and their families through a variety of activities.

In addition to helping patients understand the medical procedures they will undergo through developmentally appropriate language and teaching aids, they also provide educational and recreational activities, including arts and crafts sessions that they can participate in via kid-friendly tablets that are part of STHS Children’s virtual playroom. When fearful or stressed, nurses and staff help provide calming, sensory stimulation through the hospital’s multi-sensory rover.

All this — and more — is made possible through the Auxiliary to South Texas Health System, which raises money through hospital gift shops and various fundraising projects. For the last four years, Spirit of Children has been a major supporter of the Auxiliary. Each year, Spirit of Children raises funds locally through Spirit Halloween stores in the RGV and generously donates a portion of these proceeds to the Auxiliary to STHS.

This year, $51,399.00 was raised — bringing the four-year total to $138,058.00. On Thursday, February 10, STHS Children’s was joined by Spirit of Children representatives for a special check presentation of this year’s funds, which were all raised locally through sales of Halloween costumes and decorations at its Spirit Halloween stores across the Rio Grande Valley.

Despite the ongoing pandemic last fall, Spirit Halloween managed to raise the largest amount of funds in the program’s four-year partnership with the Auxiliary and STHS Children’s. The funds will help establish a new healing courtyard for patients and their families to enjoy a break from the hospital room. 

“We’re always thinking about ways to improve and provide a more comfortable experience for the wonderful children in our care,” STHS Children’s and STHS Edinburg CEO Lance Ames said. “While we make sure to offer games and activities every day in their rooms, there’s nothing quite like getting to run around outside, touch and see the green grass and just enjoy some fresh air.

“Spirit of Children has been an amazing partner to our hospital, and we are so thankful for their generosity over the years. The joy and excitement we witness in the children when we give them a new toy or put on a special activity really fuels us and we’re so excited to soon be able to offer something even more.” 

Following the check presentation, attendees took a moment to remember the life of Angela Purcell, the Spirit of Halloween representative who helped forge the partnership. Her family, who now serve on the Spirit foundation, received a special plaque in her honor.

“It’s amazing to just think about how many patients have benefitted from STHS Children’s Child Life Services,” Greg Purcell, Franchise Operator for South Texas Spirit, Spirit of Children said. “This new courtyard is just the beginning of more great things to come and I look forward to honoring my wife’s legacy by continuing to serve in this capacity.”

The courtyard will feature a life-size checkerboard, hopscotch court, sitting areas and more and is set to break ground in March.

About South Texas Health System 

South Texas Health System is a multi-facility healthcare system serving patients throughout the Rio Grande Valley. The system includes four acute care facility campuses with specialties in pediatrics, heart and vascular services, maternity and women’s health and trauma services. Inpatient and outpatient treatment for behavioral health needs and addictive disorders is also provided through the system’s South Texas Health System Behavioral facility. South Texas Health System is affiliated with the South Texas Clinical Partners ACO, Prominence Health Plan, and Cornerstone Regional Hospital. The system operates an advanced Level II Trauma Center at South Texas Health System McAllen, the first and only freestanding children’s facility and pediatric ER at South Texas Health System Children’s, the region’s only freestanding heart hospital and specialized cardiac ER at South Texas Health System Heart, and six freestanding emergency rooms located in and around Weslaco, Mission, Edinburg, McAllen and Alamo. For more information about the system and its comprehensive services, please visit www.southtexashealthsystem.com.

About Auxiliary to South Texas Health System
The Auxiliary of South Texas Health System is comprised of men and women who donate not only their time assisting in the various departments throughout the facilities that make up South Texas Health System. The non-profit organization also raises money for educational scholarships to students within the Rio Grande Valley, continuing education assistance to STHS employees, and donations for other not-for-profit organizations within the community. The Auxiliary is able to give generous financial donations each year through money raised from the gift shop and various fundraising projects.

About Spirit of Children
At the heart of Spirit Halloween is Spirit of Children, a program which focuses on making hospitals less scary for kids and their families. Since its inception in 2007, Spirit of Children has brought smiles, laughter and a much-needed escape to thousands of pediatric patients in 147 hospitals across the United States and Canada. One hundred percent of the money collected each year is given directly to the Child Life Departments at local partner hospitals, such as South Texas Health System Children’s. Spirit of Children raised over $12 million in 2020, bringing its total collections total to more than $77 million since the program’s inception. Spirit encourages customers to help make a difference in a child’s life by donating at their local Spirit Halloween in season, donating online anytime at SpiritHalloween.com or spreading awareness via Facebook and Instagram by using #SpiritofChildren and #MoreCowbell in their photos. For more information, please visit: SpiritOfChildren.com.

Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of South Texas Health System. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.