ROCHESTER, Minn. - For families with kids in the hospital, the holiday season can be an especially tough time.
On Monday, an effort is underway to brighten the day for the patients at Mayo Clinic Children's Center. It's called the Balloon Brigade, where over the next two weeks Hy-Vee will give away 3,000 balloons to pediatric patients.
"We want our patients and families to feel special and not forgot what their normal life is outside of the clinic and outside of the hospital," Marne Hoyer, a child life specialist at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, said.
For three years, Andrea Carranza's 9-year-old son Gabriel has battled leukemia.
Like other families here, they frequent the hospital often for appointments and treatments.
A simple surprise in the form of a balloon made the day joyful for families.
"As a mom it's a bit overwhelming," Carranza, of Pine Island, said. "I kind of felt teary eyed about it, like it's just really awesome to see somebody want to give so much to the kids and help them have a better holiday."
All of the balloons are purchased by Hy-Vee customers. If you'd like to help the cause, you have the rest of this week to into any of the Rochester Hy-Vee locations and buy a balloon.
This is the third year of the initiative. The balloons will also be given to kids at the Ronald McDonald House and Hope Lodge.
"The holidays can be hard," Carranza said. "This whole endeavor is hard so be able to come and have selfless people who are willing to donate and give to the kids and give them a little bit more, it's just really a lasting impression for the rest of us."