"I know what it feels like to be in a hospital on Christmas Eve... and it's not a fun feeling. Just to have one little spark of hope, or just that one little toy... it makes all of the difference."
“Partners such as Van Autoplex not only make a difference with the toys and dollars they donate, but they have also become our champions in the community, advocating for our patients and assuring they have a special holiday while receiving the best pediatric care.”
Kansas City rallies to Stock the Snowflake Shoppe for kids at Children's Mercy
When a child has a hospital stay — whether planned or due to emergency — packing all the comforts of home is not always possible, especially during a busy time like the holiday season when parents’ worries center around a child’s health, not purchasing presents. The Snowflake Shoppe at Children’s Mercy Kansas City allows parents and caregivers to select gifts for children in the hospital, and their family members, at no cost, all without leaving the building. The donations come from community groups and corporate partners, past patients and even pro athletes.
Many community groups such as Henson’s Heroes – an organization started by two Children’s Mercy patients – and the Elite Comics Super Heroes spend months collecting new toys to donate, while individuals such as Reese Davis, also a former patient, inspires his entire elementary school to add toys to the shoppe.
Some of the highlights of this year's "Stock the Shoppe" community efforts:
- Eric Berry, KC Chiefs star safety, five-time Pro Bowl honoree, and recent cancer survivor, delivered presents and spent time with patients. The Eric Berry Foundation teamed with Van Autoplex, country singer Travis Marvin and friends and family members to deliver 6,600 toys, 500 Gift Bags, $1250 in Gift Cards and a total of $23,000 in cash donations.
- The Child Life team at Children's Mercy received a $10,000 grant from Target and an additional $5,400 in other donations, allowing them to pile their carts high this week at Mission Target. Funds collected at other Target locations provided an extra $1,000 gift card for future needs.
- The Elite Comics Super Heroes collected funds and toys in the comic book store, and then went on a fun shopping spree. The result of their efforts: a donation of $8,000 worth of toys for the kids.
- Once again, Henson's Heroes - patients, families and friends - braved the winter weather to "Stuff the Bus" by collecting a busload of toys and items for patients and families.
- And countless other businesses and community groups, including Panera and Sporting KC's Victory Project, encouraged employees, fans and followers to contribute to the Snowflake Shoppe as well.
“I know what it’s like to be in the hospital all the time…even for your birthdays and holidays, so I hope we can bring a little joy to those who are in the hospital at Christmas time,” said Caleb Wolf, a founder of Henson’s Heroes. Caleb receives ongoing care at Children’s Mercy after being born with a brain malformation and cerebral spinal fluid issues, and he volunteers as a member of the hospital’s Teen Advisory Board.
Eric Berry also said that his passion for this project stems in part from similar experience.
"I know what it feels like to be in a hospital on Christmas Eve, and to have to be in the waiting room and be in the chair, getting IV's and getting treatment - and it's not a fun feeling" Berry said during his visit to Children's Mercy. "Just to have one little spark of hope, or just that one little toy, or having someone that you care about in there with you... it makes all of the difference."
It's easy to see how the widespread community support makes an immeasurable impact.
“Partners such as Van Autoplex not only make a difference with the toys and dollars they donate, but they have also become our champions in the community, advocating for our patients and assuring they have a special holiday while receiving the best pediatric care,” said Jenea Oliver, Vice President of Philanthropy at Children’s Mercy.
Because Children’s Mercy is a nonprofit organization, philanthropic support is crucial to its mission of providing the best care possible for all kids, regardless of their ability to pay. Anyone interested in supporting Children’s Mercy can visit http://www.cmh.edu/give to support the Child Life department and year-round care for kids.