Donated toys mean happier holiday for hospitalized kids
Toy donations are ready to be gift-wrapped and distributed to patients at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge on Dec. 14. | Kevin Tanaka for~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:33PM
PARK RIDGE — Parents of sick children and the staff at the Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge can’t help getting emotional when they see how happy the kids are to open presents that are donated by community members.
The children’s hospital, located on the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital campus on Dempster Street, receives an outpouring of generosity during the holiday season.
“The community truly helps us have a holiday for our patients and their families,” shared Child Life Specialist Linda Bensing.
This year the Women’s Physician Group hosted a toy drive that brought in more than 600 toys for children who are at the hospital during the holidays.
A volunteer recently pulled up with an entire van full of toys that were donations from a party and another volunteer collected more than 4,000 toys from a trade show she ran. She also coordinated donations with Nordstrom in Oak Brook, explained Camille Vicino, a spokeswoman for Lutheran General Hospital.
Parents are given the opportunity to browse through the many items and choose the toy they feel is just perfect for their child.
“It enables a child to leave the hospital with a positive impression,” said Bensing. She said the hope of the hospital is to create a happy memory for the kids.
In addition to the children who are hospitalized, toys are also given to children who are treated in the emergency room, ambulatory surgery, radiology and other areas of the hospital during the holiday season, Bensing added.
And if they aren’t all distributed in December, the toys are definitely not wasted.
Bensing said that some are used to restock the play areas or are given to children on other holidays or to celebrate the end to a chemotherapy treatment.
The village of Niles and the Niles Fire Department also celebrated the season of giving during their 9th Annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive which also helped beneft Lutheran General patients. Niles Fire Chief Steve Borkowski, Mayor Robert Callero and other village department heads recently accompanied two U.S. marines at the hospital to distribute toys and vist the children.
“The children were thrilled with the toys that they got,” said Bernadette Knapik, assistant to the fire chief.
Knapik said the kids at the hospital were in awe of the fire chief, mayor and the two marines who visited the pediatric intensive care unit and a children’s activity room.