Christmas came a couple of weeks early for a group of children who battle burn injuries every day.
About 40 young patients of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital arrived in style Tuesday night at Target in Mullins Crossing. After three stretch SUV limos dropped them off in front of the Evans store, they were greeted by Santa Claus and camera flashes from family and friends.
The burn center, partnering with the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, held its seventh annual Shop with a Doc at the Evans store.
Burn center Medical Director Fred Mullins said the event enables his staff to see the children outside a clinical setting.
“This is seeing them on the other side,” he said. “It makes you feel good inside.”
Kaitlyn Jackson, 10, was released from the hospital Thursday – just in time to search for the perfect presents.
Kaitlyn was brought to the burn center in January after suffering second- and third-degree burns when boiling water on the stove spilled on her chest and lower half of her body, said her mother, Kristie Jackson.
“She thought she wasn’t going to be out in time but, luckily, enough she was,” said the Greenwood, S.C., resident.
Kaitlyn, her mother and volunteer Reina Paoli were on a mission to spend the $150 gift card each child was given before let loose in the store.
“We’re going to shop ’til we drop,” Kaitlyn said.
Going from aisle to aisle, Kaitlyn carefully planned what she wanted to spend her money on. She selected a couple of dolls, pink slippers, pajamas, finger paint, a friendship bracelet kit and a pack of beads that expand in water, which was her favorite item, she said.
She also made sure to pick out Christmas gifts for her father, grandmother and two brothers.
Paoli, a bartender at Buffalo Wild Wings, said she jumped at the chance to participate in the event.
“I think this is wonderful,” said Paoli, who referred to herself as Kaitlyn’s personal assistant for the day. “It’s great they do stuff like this for the kids.”
Dr. Zaheed Hassan said he views the patients as family members.
“We just want to see them also enjoy Christmas,” he said.