Young Philanthropists Help Make Holidays Bright for Kids at Seattle Children’s

Toy Drive
Tonya Ward poses with hundreds of toys donated by children at Cedarhurst Elementary.

Sometimes the littlest of hearts can be the most generous. Children at The Bear Creek School and Cedarhurst Elementary School are proving just that. They are helping make the holiday a little brighter, and warmer for kids at Seattle Children’s this holiday.

Spreading holiday cheer

Spending the holidays away from home and in a hospital bed can be a difficult reality for some children. They may wonder what the holidays will bring, or if Santa will be able to find them. For children who are ill, a toy or a comfort item, like a blanket, can mean the world.

“I couldn’t imagine having to spend Christmas in the hospital,” said Tonya Ward, a teacher’s aid at Cedarhurst Elementary. “It’s an incredible feeling to know we’re making a difference in a child’s life.”Ward had an idea seven years ago. She wanted to bring holiday cheer to kids at Seattle Children’s, so she started a toy drive, a project she calls Kids Helping Kids. She enlisted the help of children at the elementary. It’s a project they love to participate in every year.

This year, the elementary school collected 637 new toys for children at the hospital.

“The children bring in dolls, trucks, board games, puzzles, crayons, coloring books and more,” said Ward. “They get really excited. Every gift, big or small, makes a difference. We do the best we can to help and inspire others to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Providing warmth to kids

For ten years, The Bear Creek School has been doing their part to provide comfort and warmth to kids at Seattle Children’s by donating blankets. In lieu of a Christmas party each year, they focus on giving rather than receiving. For the students and teachers at The Bear Creek School, that’s what the holidays are truly about – giving back.

“The kids love bringing the blankets they make to the hospital,” said Lisa Dineen, a teacher at The Bear Creek School. “Some kids remember the one they got when they were in the hospital over holiday. It makes it even more special.”

Blanket lady
Jane, “the blanket lady,” volunteers at Seattle Children’s delivering blankets to kids.

Every blanket is different; it depends on each child’s unique interests. The children pick the design and blanket materials and make the blankets during school.

“It’s totally up to the personality of the child,” said Dineen. “We have a lot of Seahawks this year.”

Blankets aren’t the only way children at The Bear Creek School spread holiday cheer. They also make handmade gingerbread houses, which then get displayed around the hospital.

“The kids don’t always get an opportunity to give in a way where they see it full circle,” said Dineen. “We personally deliver the blankets and gingerbread houses to the hospital every year. They enjoy being able to help someone else feel good. And getting the opportunity to see where the blankets go helps them see the difference they’re making.”
Every inpatient child at Seattle Children’s receives a blanket.

“Imagine you are a child,” said Janel Wohlers, in-kind gift manager at Seattle Children’s. “Now imagine that you are in the hospital and that you have been here for weeks. Think of what it might be like to be away from the comforts of home while confined to a hospital room. The warmth of a blanket brings a sense of well being to a child. It’s the perfect thing to curl up with and help them feel comforted.”

Thanks to the generosity of these elementary school children, the holidays at the hospital will be a little merrier and more children will have the warmth of a blanket to snuggle up with this year.

Make a hospital stay brighter for a patient at any time of year – visit ways to donate to learn more.