It’s that time of year in thinking of others and giving back. With so many options of places to donate food, clothing and toys it can be a little overwhelming. I am here to speak up about child life and creative art programs in hospitals that are often overlooked but in need of so much. Here is a small breakdown of how you can impact a child and family who have been hospitalized during the holiday season and throughout the year.
Who to contact:
Reaching out to your local hospital and finding out if they have a child life program is the first step. If the hospital doesn’t have one than you can contact larger programs such as Starlight, Project Sunshine, or Child Life Wish list.org that work closely with child life programs.
Who can donate:
There is an endless amount of people who are willing to help. Think about creating a toy drive with family members, friends and neighbors. Your local community, restaurants, pediatric offices, schools and churches. Group organizations for adults and children such as sport teams, cub scouts and mommy and me programs.
What kind of items are needed:
Most child life programs are in need of toys, electronics and gift cards. Due to infection control, toys need to be new. Some toys will be given as gifts during the holidays and other items will be used for activities for children in the playroom at bedside or during medical procedures. Here is a list of what is typically needed:
- Cause and Effect Toys
- Mobiles, Crib Toys
- Dramatic Play (dress up, kitchen toys, doctor kits)
- Board Games
- Music CDs (children’s, school-aged and adolescents)
- DVDs and Video games (rated age appropriately)
- Cars, Trucks, Trains
- Dolls (clothes, strollers, baby items)
- Action Figures and Animal Figurines
- Musical Instruments
- Books-different languages are encouraged (look and find, pop-up)
- Art Supplies (can be individualized art kits)
- Scrapbook Materials
- Wagons, Small Ride on Toys and Push Carts
- Tablets, Hand Held Games and Headphones
- Digital Cameras, CD Players and I-Pods,
- Gift Cards (ToysRus, Target, BestBuy, I-Tunes)
There isn’t a lot of funding for child life programs; they are typically run by grants and donations. Reaching out and providing some of these much-needed items will surely help them in a tremendous way.