For the doctors at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, seeing the children that they treat on a daily basis healing and happy makes their jobs worthwhile.
"We treat 3,000 in-hospital patients a year, and out of those, a third are children," said medical director Fred Mullins. "To see them come in and what they look like and then after treatment makes my job more meaningful.
"They go through such a trauma and are worried about their physical appearances, so this is a good way to get them to socialize."
The doctors and medical staff at the burn center joined forces with the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation Tuesday to help put smiles on dozens of children's faces during the annual Shop with a Doc event held at the Evans Target in Mullins Crossing.
Lashonna Lewis, 6, was burned after a piece of pizza fell on her leg in June.
"Shopping with my friend and hugging (restaurant mascot) Red Robin," she said, after being asked about her favorite part of the day.
Nearly 40 children were chosen to participate in the event after the burn center's medical staffers reviewed pediatric files from the year, nurse Sherry Videtto said. Sponsors are provided for each child to supply them with $150 Target gift certificates, she said.
"The kids love it, we love it and it get everyone in that Christmas spirit," Videtto said.
Bobby Ward and his daughter, Jaycie, 10, volunteered to help with the event.
"Just to see the smile on their faces makes it all worth it," Ward said.
Knowledge McCall, 4, suffered burns after running into his brother, who was holding a pot of boiling water. McCall's favorite part of the day was "buying stuff," he said. What he wanted to get the most was a Nintendo DS.
"I'm not going to say it brings tears to my eyes, but it brings on a strong emotion," Dr. Claus Brandigi said about seeing the children from the burn unit so happy and excited.
Refreshments were provided by Chick-fil-A, Moe's Southwest Grill, Red Robin, Ruby Tuesday and Publix.
"Many of these children have been through more trauma than most adults will go through their entire lives," Brandigi said.
When asked what he hopes the children take away from the Shop With A Doc experience, Brandigi said, "Nothing. I just want them to have fun."
Carlitha Hunt, along with her son, Sinias Grice, 4, her sister, Sophia Hunt, and Sophia's daughter, Lanazia Hunt, 4, were in their house when a gas leak engulfed the house in flames two years ago.
"I love how they remember us, even after months out of the hospital we still get calls from them checking on us," said Carlitha Hunt. "The entire burn unit is awesome, and we're just glad they remember us," Hunt said.
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