Last week, our partners-in-care at Charter Senior Living in Vernon Hills, Illinois reached out to our account executive, Steve, regarding a fun event they had planned and asked if we would like to participate. The plan was to stand outside of a local large chain store (we won’t name it) and pass out holiday goodie bags filled with treats, scratch-off lottery tickets, and even gift cards for the chain in question. We were not soliciting and were just handing out the free stuff to anyone that walked by, as everyone (shoppers and healthcare workers alike) has been stressed out this year with COVID and all of the other wackiness 2020 has brought. Well, that didn’t go as planned, and we were told to leave because we did not get permission from the chain’s corporate HQ to be on their property giving away items. Bah humbug! That didn’t stop us though, and we adapted. We weren’t giving up.

Upon getting back to the Charter community to come up with another plan (we called other stores prior, none would allow it), we decided “hey, lets just drive around and do it on-the-fly”, to which there was unanimous consent among all of us participating.  Before we departed, the beautiful ladies of the Lake County Pageant (on the left of Charter’s Grinch and Santa) took time to help spread the holiday cheer:

After some pictures with the wonderful ladies, we got the bus ready, along with a “warning”. We apologize in advance for Steve’s (Meridian Health Care’s Account Executive) lack of penmanship. Guess he’s not used to writing on windows….



With the bus ready to depart, we were set out on our mission.



As you can imagine, a bus full of holiday spirit might raise some eyebrows on the road as the doors swing open and out poor people with gifts to give folks stopped at red lights (part of the original plan), so we thought of the next best thing, which is, of course, a mall! Jennifer (Charter’s Executive Director) turned the bus into the mall parking lot, drove up to the main entrance, and out we went! The look of surprise people gave when being approached by Santa (Rita) and the Grinch (Kristin) while being handed gifts was the best!


It wasn’t just unsuspecting shoppers that got the gifts. The Grinch and Santa showed some holiday appreciation to a construction crew as well:



Some people didn’t know what to think at first. “What are all of these people doing getting out of a bus and running around handing stuff out for”? That’s just how we roll. It’s the holidays and we wanted to bring some random normalcy back into the picture.


We ended the day and got a late lunch. The cheer was spread through the establishment wee dined at as well. Kristen (the Grinch) went table to table and handed out the remaining gifts to other patrons:



One thing we all learned from today is that just getting out and doing events for the holiday spirit is still doable. It’s also very much needed. Interacting with people that you would have never met otherwise and sharing a moment of joy and surprise can make someone walk away with a smile and even possibly change the outlook of their day. It was an honor and a privilege to “think outside of the box” and tag along with the Charter Senior Living team for an afternoon. Happy holidays to all!


Steve (Meridian Health Care) and Jennifer, Kristin and Rita from Charter Senior Living in Vernon Hills