“Our whole family woke up Christmas morning, and there were so many toys in our hospital room, we could barely move. The look on Micah’s face was amazing,” Dianne Delano, Micah’s mother, said in an emailed press release from Mountain States Health Alliance. “It’s hectic spending the holidays in the hospital, and to know that Santa was going to come with toys for Micah was one less thing we had to worry about. That way, we could focus on him, and he could take his mind off of being sick and just enjoy the day.”
Each Christmas, while patients like Micah are in their hospital beds, the staff at Niswonger leaves donated toys from Santa outside each room. Alternatively, presents are given to parents in advance, so they can follow their own family traditions while spending Christmas at the hospital.
“The toys we’re able to give our kids on Christmas and during the rest of the year are all generously donated,” Amanda Ward, child life manager of Niswonger Children’s Hospital, said. “Our biggest donation time is Christmas, and those toys really help us out throughout the entire year too. Without the donations, these kids may not have toys to wake up to on Christmas morning.”
On average, there could be as many as 75 pediatric patients at Niswonger during the holidays. Medical bills can drain some families’ funds, leaving little to go Christmas shopping.
“We do everything we can to make Christmas special for our families here,” Ward said. “A lot of our kids worry that Santa won’t know they’re here, so on Christmas Eve, our Santa visits the children’s hospital to assure them he knows where they are. Then, through our generous donations, he’s able to leave toys for them later that night.
“We’re always so appreciative of how our community really steps up to support the children’s hospital.”
Due to infection control and patient safety, Niswonger asks that each donation be a new toy.
For more information on making donations, visit www.niswongerchildrens.org/wish-list, or contact Amanda Ward at 423-431-6895.