MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The COVID-19 pandemic has changed and canceled many plans and events this year, but WVU Medicine Children’s is doing its best to ensure its patients still have a holiday full of presents.
This year, the hospital will have its first-ever community toy drive instead of having the public drop off presents throughout December. Cheryl Jones, the hospital’s vice president and associate chief nursing officer, said to ensure everyone’s safety, presents will be dropped off at the Morgantown Mariott at Waterfront Place on Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — drivers won’t even have to get out of their cars. The items will be sorted in the hotel’s ballroom, allowed to quarantine, and then be taken to the hospital for parents to choose from.
A couple of weeks in December, we will set up Santa’s Workshop, and parents of the hospitalized children will have the opportunity to shop for their child. Where otherwise, because of their hospitalization, they may not have been able to provide. And so, through the generous donation of the community, this will really make many children’s Christmas. In addition, certainly, it will help Santa on Christmas morning.Cheryl Jones – VP and Assoc. Chief Nursing Officer
Jones said it is important to donate toys to patients at WVU Medicine Children’s but especially this year, as the pandemic wages on. It has resulted in fewer people in the hospital, a loss of volunteers and well-wishers who all contribute to normalizing the experience of staying in a hospital for children and their families.
The hospital has a whole program called Childlife Services, which specializes in child development, so it knows the importance of creating a comforting and relaxing atmosphere for children. That is why celebrating the holidays with a present in hand is especially so important, Jones said.
In fact, gifts are so important, Jones said, WVU Medicine Children’s will have a third toy drive day on Jan. 18 because the hospital’s goal in a normal year is to collect gifts year-round to celebrate different milestones.
“It could be as simple as they have successfully learned to swallow their pills,” Jones said. “That’s a big deal in the hospital. Or they were able to lie still and have an IV placed or some other painful procedures that at times they need to have happen to get to the outcome of getting home and getting better. The nursing staff and providers — we all use these tools. Most folks don’t think of a toy as a tool, but it’s kind of a tool that — it’s a tool of the trade-in a children’s hospital, and so it really enables the child to move through their hospitalization with as less stress as possible.”
Jones said the hospital understands it has been a difficult year for many in the community, but anything people can donate will help brighten children’s lives.
“I just want to thank the community,” Jones said.
For a full break down of how the toy drive will work, take a look at the event’s flyer.