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Santa makes early stop at TMC and Banner UMC

Posted at 12:46 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-21 14:46:39-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It is the most wonderful time of the year, but - it can be hard to feel the spirit of the season for many children who are forced to spend the holidays in the hospital. 
On Monday, the Arizona Department of Public Safety wanted to give every child the chance to celebrate, with the help of Old Saint Nick. At Tucson Medical Center, troopers took to the hospital halls, delivering small gifts and spreading the spirit of the season to children there. 
One sergeant with DPS has been doing this event for several years, but he told KGUN9, every single visit is an emotional roller coaster. 
"To see them aspire to Santa Claus and just light up with that hope and everything else is rewarding," Sgt. Charlie Serino said. 
Santa's helpers spent Monday morning at Tucson Medical Center, but then made their way by sleigh... or patrol vehicles to Banner University Medical Center later in the day. 
This is all apart of the Christmas Patrol Bear Program, sponsored by the Arizona State Troopers Association. It was all started back in 1993 by retired DPS Lieutenant Bernie Gazdzik at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson. Now, the program is in it's 22nd year and goes across the state of Arizona.