December 7, 2014 | by Denise Heady
The holidays can create an overwhelming urge to give to people in need — especially to sick children and families spending the holidays in a hospital room.
That's a good thing. Holiday donations of toys and gifts can bolster the spirits, and improve the lives, of people affected by illness, and hospitals nationwide rely on the generosity of the public to help provide holiday cheer.
“Sometimes even the smallest gestures can mean the world to someone going through a difficult time,” said Renee Ortiz, L.C.S.W., a pediatric social worker at City of Hope.
But before scouring the shelves at the local mall, give some thought to what pediatric patients and their families actually want and need. The No. 1 item on children’s and young adults' wish lists? Gift cards.
“Gift cards allow patients and their families to shop in many ways,” Ortiz said. “They can go to the store and pick out what they need. And for patients who are stuck in the hospital during the holiday season, they can shop online. It allows them to shop and look forward for their items to be delivered to them.”
Other popular gifts include educational toys, arts and craft kits, and movies. Check out the City of Hope website for a full list of gift ideas for kids, teens and young adults.
But one more thing ... If you're finding it hard to resist that adorable stuffed animal, try a little harder. At City of Hope, stuffed animals and plush toys are strongly discouraged. A number of patients suffer from weakened immune systems, and these toys can easily trap dust and other substances that can potentially make the children even sicker.
If you want to make your donation in person, call City of Hope's Department of Pediatrics at 626-256,4673, ext. 65430. The team will arrange for a time to meet you and accept the gifts on behalf of City of Hope patients. The deadline for holiday donations is Dec. 19. If you would like to make a monetary donation, please include a note clearly explaining the purpose of the gift, e.g., a donation to the Department of Pediatrics for pediatric patient gifts, activities, etc.