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Meet the Amazing ‘Elf’ and Her Helper That Are Putting Up Christmas Trees For Sick Kids in Oishei Children’s Hospital

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She’s done it for years – so this is nothing new.

What IS new – is the hospital where Maryanne McMahon is putting up beautiful Christmas trees for sick children. It’s been Roswell Park and the old Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo in the past. This year – it’s Oishei Children’s Hospital. It takes a lot of time, effort and money – but Maryanne wouldn’t have it any other way.


For the Grand Island mom – it’s a way of life; helping others is in her blood. She has a Halloween costume drive in the fall, adopts families at Christmas Time and is always willing to help anyone in need.

She also knows about adversity. And hospitals. And pain and suffering. Her son, Jake, a Marine Corporal at the time, was injured in an explosion during a training exercise in California. It was just over a year ago. Jake suffered terrible burns to his hands and face.


He persevered and is now doing remarkably well – surpassing all of his doctors’ expectations. He’s also reminding his mom – and all of us – what is most important and precious in life.


Maryanne gets help each year from her husband, Sean – and now that he is out of the Marines – Jake is also helping his mom with her Christmas mission. They’ve been collecting Christmas trees, ornaments and other holiday decorations and one by one setting them up inside rooms where sick children spend their days and nights.

This year, they set up 30 trees so far!!!

THIRTY! Not tabletop trees, folks. Some are six feet tall and they’re all loaded with amazing ornaments. Not to mention stockings and other decorations, too!  Maryanne gets donations from friends, family, coworkers and the community – but she also buys plenty herself.



Beautiful trees for beautiful children. For Maryanne – it’s not anything she wants credit for, she does it because it fills her with joy.

The children have something to smile about, a bit of normalcy – and some Christmas magic – right there in their hospital room.

It brings comfort and happiness to children who are stuck in the hospital over the holidays, “It’s amazing. For some kids, it’s the last Christmas tree of their lives and that’s an honor to be able to do that,” said Maryanne, “This year, I gave a lot of first Christmas trees for babies, that’s pretty cool too. Each tree is different and each family is different too.”


It helps the kids, their parents, hospital staff – and of course, Maryanne and her family – who – during Christmas and all year round – live by the motto that it truly is better to give than to receive.

Maryanne tells me she has just one wish, “I hope these kids live long lives and have some ornaments when they are old.”




As Corporal McMahon continues treatment for severe burns, the community is coming together to help…



Helping the community – because, well -she can. Be inspired by this mom’s work!!


Mary Friona

Mary Friona

Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years - seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.