2016 Holiday Helpers Gift Drive benefits The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital
story and photo by James Coburn
Love is in the air.
The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital 2016 Holiday Helpers Gift Drive kicked-off the week of Thanksgiving to benefit children receiving services.
Children and their families gathered with staff to celebrate the season within the colorful lobby area of the hospital decorated with Christmas trees. Several local media personalities were on hand to dress up as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus as well as Santa’s Elves with gifts and cheer.
A countdown was given before one of the patients lit a diaper tree which is one of the items in need by the children. Another patient used her adaptive technology to light a candy Christmas tree.
The kick off will extend to New Year’s Day, said Danielle Dunn, hospital spokeswoman.
“This is when we invite people to donate to the hospital and there are several ways they can donate,” Dunn continued.
Among needed items are those for personal care, clothing, baby items, art supplies, bedside needs and other items such as the wish list from the Pediatric Medical Rehabilitation Unit, said Ashley Sims, RN.
Amazon or Target.com offer specific lists the department needs for various therapies.
More than 250,000 Huggies and Pampers diapers are used each year at the hospital to meet the children’s needs. The need for batteries, DVD players and Baby Einstein or Tiny Love-brand crib mobiles will increase when the new 100-square-foot building addition opens next summer with 40 new beds.
This good will generated by the community says a lot about the generous spirit of holiday donors, Sims said.
“I think it’s huge. Everything we have for the kids is donated by the community,” Sims noted. “That says a lot about the people in the community and in Oklahoma that want to help.”
Sims cannot recall a time when the community did not respond to the children’s needs. Chapstick and batteries are not items the hospital necessarily orders but are filled by good Samaritans.
“We don’t think about all those little things. We have all those toys, and if you’re a parent like I am, children go through them like crazy and we have batteries for them that are donated by people just wanting to help throughout the year and not just specifically around the holiday time,” Sims said.
Time and time again, people step up to fulfill the needs. And Sims can sense by the expressions of the children and their families what it means for them.
Some of the children stay at the hospital for a long time. New toys are cycled into their lives because they are kids with normal desires for new toys at the bedside. Sims watches the excitement the kids have when surprised with a new toy.
“It’s awesome for me to watch because they get so excited by little things like stacking blocks,” Sims said. “To receive new things they didn’t have before shows we care about them.”
The spirit of goodwill adds to the hospitals successful outcomes. When the children’s emotional health is uplifted it helps with their physical health as well.
“That can go anywhere from a hygiene product. We have girls that have beautiful hair here. So a need we have is a de-entangler spray,” Sims said. “They use a lot of it. Some of the kids want to feel pretty, feel like princesses and part of that is their beautiful hair.”
Having their hair brushed is therapeutic, Sims said. As with everyone else, the children like to brush their teeth for their daily hygiene. It makes them feel good along with the toys and daily activities.
Coming to serve at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital helped Sims cross a new horizon of awareness in life. She has two little girls at home. So her daughters’ lives are now more about making gifts for the Children’s Center residents.
“It’s something fun that they get to do. So instead of it being about ourselves, it become more about giving for other people which I think is far more important. I think it makes you want to have a giving heart,” Sims said.
Children were excited to see a Christmas tree shining brightly as the lobby was full of Christmas carols. The children never feel left out of a festivity. Festivities are tailored for them and their families to make them feel a part of the celebration.
The goodwill in-turn radiated out into the community. Social media lets the metro know more about what the hospital is doing for children not only during holidays but throughout the year, Sims said.
“That reaches so many more people and people who wouldn’t have thought to give before are now coming in,” Sims said. “It really inspires everybody to get together.”