Health First Shopping Spree Puts Santa on the Map for Over 100 Kids Around Brevard

By  //  December 22, 2020

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This is the eighth year Health First has shopped for local kids in need

HEALTH FIRST CEO STEVE JOHNSON, above left, was among the shoppers who turned out for the eighth annual “Magic of Christmas Toy Drive” for area youth. This partnership with the South Brevard Sharing Center is another way Brevard’s community healthcare system invests in the Space Coast’s overall wellness needs.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Christmas is a time of joy, gladness and never more so than during a painful year of bad news and loneliness.

The sight of a pile of presents waiting at home can bring a smile to the face of children and their parents, too.

That’s the kind of hope and glee Health First is investing in when it rallied dozens of associates at two area supercenters to shop for more than 100 area kids — everything from Fortnite games and L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. dolls to sneakers and bedding.

Denise Krassel, an Operations Business Process Analyst in Enrollment and Billing for Health First Health Plans, ran through the checkout with one basket then returned to shop some more.

“Our theme that runs throughout the whole Health Plan is, we focus on the wellness and health of our community, and it’s not just coverages or drawing blood or providing referrals to a specialist. That smile on the face of a child, relieving the pressures of life — it’s the whole person, and it takes the whole associate.”

Denise Krassel, an Operations Business Process Analyst in Enrollment and Billing for Health First Health Plans, ran through the checkout with one basket then returned to shop some more. (Health First image)

This is the eighth year Health First has shopped for local kids in need. The annual “Magic of Christmas Toy Drive” is an opportunity for the South Brevard Sharing Center to partner with Health First to extend charity in the county this holiday season.

“While toys can’t make up for days missed at school, toys can’t make up for a parent who’s lost their job, it’s a sign that their community loves them, so it’s very important to us,” said Steve Johnson, CEO of Health First.

Anecdotally, health professions have long said that happiness and joy improve health outcomes for all ages, and that amusement and play is particularly beneficial for ill and hospitalized kids.

There’s also a link between charitable acts, and employee and community wellness. And, simply, there’s the pang of picturing children with dim prospects this season.

HEALTH FIRST ASSOCIATE Denise Krassel helps load up the “sleigh” with gifts for the South Brevard Sharing Center, the nonprofit that will help distribute presents to hundreds of area youth and families.

“From Health First’s perspective, it’s an opportunity. To be able to give gifts to the community and the kids who don’t know if they’re going to wake up and get anything. Because if you believe in Santa Claus, and then, you believe he skipped you? It’s tragic,” said Rachel Hobgood, Special Events Administrator for Health First.

For Denise Krassel, who moved with her husband to Melbourne and raised a son and a daughter here, giving back to the community means investing in young families and keeping Brevard County a great place to raise children.

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“It’s really a small town. You’ll find connections with so many people who may be your neighbors, maybe have kids on a sports team with one of yours. It’s a community, and it branches out beyond each individual family. You can pay it forward,” she said.

As part of our not-for-profit mission, Health First provided $180 million of community support in fiscal year 2019 through a variety of community health improvement services, community building activities, direct charity and uncompensated care, and other community support.

To learn more about the Health First Foundation and how it supports Brevard residents, visit HFgivesback.org.

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