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Cheering up patients with holiday keepsakes
Theres a breath of fresh air when hospital volunteer Amy Conklin enters a patients room with her homemade themed gifts such as the reindeer she is holding made from wine corks and craft materials. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Amy Conklin brings cheer for the patients at Doctors Hospital of Manteca as she visits every patient in the hospital on every holiday from Valentine’s Day to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A native of Thailand, she has been in America for some 10 years..  Since the first of 2010 she has carried her membership in the hospital auxiliary one step further by making themed gifts at home and presenting them to the patients along with her infectious smile one room at a time.

With her continuing dream to become a nurse and patiently keeping her place on a long waiting list, she has stayed close to the hospital family at Doctors.  She has recently applied to another college in radiology trusting that one will come through for her after her several years at Delta College, having earned two AA degrees.

She is now taking a course in sign language at Delta to further her knowledge and her ability to communicate with the deaf while she is waiting for one of the colleges to open up with a chance to become a nurse or a part of the radiology department.

For the recent Thanksgiving holiday, Amy created turkey favors made from small pine cones complete with tail feathers that were a favorite with the patients.

A few weeks before Halloween, she found some 50 tiny, tangerine-sized pumpkins at the “Pumpkin Patch” that she said were graciously donated for the cause.  Taking them home, she used black construction paper to make the mouths and the noses – eyes were clear plastic with black centers floating inside to add to their attraction.

On the Fourth of July she created enough pinwheels to go around the hospital to all the patients.  They were blue and white with stars scattered throughout.  She said she had to blow on all of them to make sure they would turn in the breeze.

And on Easter Sunday she went from bed to bed with small baskets decorated with dry fern with a rosebud in the center.  On St. Patrick’s Day it was tiny shamrocks and hearts – whatever she had at home to create the tiny remembrances of the day.

She has had special gifts for patients on Mothers’ Day and on Fathers’ Day as well that briefly took patients’ minds away from their health concerns.

She said she spends little money on her projects in turning out nice little keepsakes.  Amy said she has to be careful that everything is kept so very clean since they are being given to the patients.  It means a lot to her and to the patients, she said, never telling them that she made them the special gift.