Toy Closet program marks 25 years
The Auxiliary Toy Closet program turns 25 this year, celebrating more than two decades of bringing comfort and smiles to pediatric patients, while also providing a rewarding experience for its organizers and volunteers.
Through the Toy Closet, every pediatric patient leaving the hospital’s inpatient and outpatient care areas gets a toy to take home. Over the past year, more than 137,000 toys were distributed, with recipients ranging from infants to teens.
Diane Petra, Toy Closet Committee chair, praises the extraordinary generosity of the community – individuals, schools, civic groups, and businesses. Their donations ensure an ample supply of toys, including games, stuffed animals, and arts and crafts. Some individuals or groups hold toy drives, and one community group assembles gift bags for teen girls.
In addition to donating toys or funds to purchase toys for the Toy Closet, the program relies on a terrific team of volunteers to sort, stock and deliver the toys to patient care areas.
The involvement of some volunteers evolves over time. Hymie Glick is an example. When he served as a manager of a nearby retail pharmacy, he organized drives for the Toy Closet for many, many years. Petra said that the toys’ transportation over to the hospital each Christmastime was a festive production.
“Toys would all get sorted and boxed at the pharmacy near the hospital,” said Petra. “They would use these big metal carts to bring the toys over. You would see a train of carts coming right through the middle of the hospital, like a parade. Everybody just loved doing it.”
When Glick retired, it didn’t change his commitment to the program. Petra said he signed up right away as a Toy Closet volunteer – and even asked attendees at his retirement party to bring toy donations.