COLUMBIA — Transformers action figures, Mr. Potato Heads, Candyland, baby dolls and basketballs lined the front of a conference room at the Women's and Children's Hospital on Sunday.
The hospital hosted its second annual Winter Wonderland Toy Drive. Organizations from Jefferson City, Fulton and Columbia were all represented.
Around two dozen volunteers from The Jefferson City Jaycees, a leadership development organization, came dressed in winter gear and blue Santa hats to drop off their donations.
The organization chooses two places each year to donate toys to. Books were sent into the hospital from Fulton, and Sigma Sigma Sigma — an MU sorority — donated toys that members collected from their chapter.
“I came up with the idea because I was in the hospital as a kid so I know how it feels to be in a hospital room when your friends are at home getting presents,” Tri-Sigma’s philanthropy chair Brittney Friedman said. “It became something bigger just by making a few phone calls.”
The Winter Wonderland Toy Drive itself was the result of people calling into the hospital on a regular basis wondering how they could donate. Everything the toy drive collects is distributed under the direction of The Child Life staff at the hospital.
“To begin with, we make a bag of toys for the kids who we know will be here on Christmas,” said Michelle Kemp, coordinator of Children’s Miracle Network and Special Events. “It’s really two-fold because the younger kids are always worried that Santa won’t find them and then some of the parents who have children under extended care haven’t had time to go out and shop.”
The remainder of the toys are set aside for children who will be in the hospital on their birthday, put in the play rooms on the different floors of the hospital and given as prizes to any child who is set to have an unpleasant procedure. So even though the toy drive is held at Christmas, the hospital uses the donations throughout the year.
“This is by far our biggest collection,” Kemp said.