Connecting Kids With Claus

For most kids, getting an audience with Santa this time of year isn’t that difficult. But children in cancer wards can’t go to malls, parties or parades where St. Nick holds court.

Enter Cisco Systems . The San Jose, Calif., network equipment giant is donating IP videophones to help kids relay their requests.

“Last year was the first year, and it was so successful that we decided to expand from two hospitals to four,” Robert Lopez, a Cisco spokesman, told

About 300 children participated last year, and Cisco expects that number to double this year, Lopez said.

The children and their families will gather in common areas in the hospitals where the Cisco video telephony equipment will be set up for the calls.

At hospitals that have Internet connections in patients’ rooms, the video telephony system will set up in those rooms so children who are too sick to get out can also take part.

The program will be run over the next three weeks and take place at Sainte Justine Hospital in Montreal; Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian; Children’s Hospital in Boston; and Children’s Hospital in San Diego

Cisco will also provide Christmas gifts for the children at the hospitals.

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