Coppa Claus Visits Area Hospitals

No one wants to spend Christmas in the hospital, and it's even worse for children. For the past few weeks, several organizations have been visiting those children, bringing them gifts. WTOC was at Candler Hospital this morning, where one very special visitor dropped in on young patients.

His name is Coppa Claus. He's a member of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department who for the past 11 years, Sgt. Todd Rhodes has traded in his navy blue uniform for his bright blue Coppa Claus suit.

"We're just trying to spread some love in the form of giving gifts, whether it's a plush toy or football or board game," he said. "Something that can help the children to take their minds off their worries and put it on something--focus on the season."

The Walker family arrived at the hospital yesterday. Baby Karizma is sick. "It's put a damper on our spirits," mother Shenita told us.

Karizma and her big sister both got gifts from Coppa Claus. "I've seen him before and I thought it was very nice," said Shenita. "I didn't think he'd come around to us, but that was very nice because I've been out of work for a while and it was nice to get some toys."

Today there are five children at Candler's Children's Place. Doctors try to keep as many children out of the hospital as they can during the holidays. They even hope to get the five children who are here now home by Christmas Eve.

But as long as they're in the hospital, they can count on Coppa Claus. This afternoon, he visited children at Memorial Health.

Every year at Christmastime, Coppa Claus visits between 12,000 and 15,000 people.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter,