Stewart Davis, 63, of Tampa, who is dressed as Santa, left, shares a moment with Lukas Yates, 8, of Ruskin, during Holiday Hearts, an event hosted by Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research at its Tampa center on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. About 50 Hillsborough County Public Schools students who are visually impaired returned to the event in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Hillsborough County Public Schools students gathered in person again for crafts and presents.
The Lions Eye Institute for Transplant Research hosted Hillsborough County students for the first time in person again since the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 50 visually impaired children from first through fifth grades on Wednesday took part in the Holiday Hearts event.
“When I told Jesslin she was going to have a Christmas party with all the students of the visually impaired program she was so excited she said, ‘Mommy, they’re going to be just like me?’ so she’s really excited to be included and to not feel like such an outsider,” Andrea Hurt said about her 7-year-old daughter’s first time attending Holiday Hearts.
“For more than a decade the staff at the Lions Eye Institute has been supporting the VIP Christmas party,” Lions Eye CEO Jason Woody said. “For most of us, Christmas is truly a visual holiday. What if you did not know what Santa, Rudolph, or snow even looked like? Many of the children at the party have never known that, and we play just a small part in making this day magical for them.”
Santa distributed presents to children and two families received decorated Christmas trees.