December 9, 2010

Holiday gifts, large or small, can shape the season for children

Featured Image

The Safe Club from Station Camp High School recently donated gifts at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. (photo by Carole Bartoo)

Holiday gifts, large or small, can shape the season for children

Every year around the holidays, Julia Stephens recalls how her son, Josh, reveled in fun moments in between all the needle pricks and tests he endured.

Whatever the activity — a magic trick, getting a new hat or reading a book — the diversion allowed the 15-year-old to forget, even if just for second or a minute or an hour, the tough periods.

While 13 years have elapsed since Josh passed away, Stephens has honored her son by making donations, first hats and now DVDs, around the holidays to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.
She holds the hospital close to her heart for the kindness her family was shown.

Stephens is just one person in a large, loving community that donates gifts to Children's Hospital to brighten children's days, and this year proves to be no different. Volunteer Services will be collecting holiday gifts until 4 p.m., Friday, Dec. 17, at Children's Hospital.

“The greatest gift of all is the gift of a healthy child,” said Stephens, who has been a second-grade teacher for 32 years at Lipscomb Elementary School in Brentwood.

“We can't treat the child, but we can try to do what we can to help them and make them happier.”

Donations are collected year-round, but gifts are especially important around the holidays, a time when no family foresees being in a hospital, said Stephanie VanDyke, director of Volunteer Services at Children's Hospital.

“Because of the generosity of the community, patients and families in the hospital during the month of December, as well as throughout the year, experience the joy of receiving gifts,” VanDyke said.

“Our community plays an important role as we strive to normalize a child's health care experience through play and other age-appropriate activities. Donations make a difference, and we are most grateful for everyone in our community who gives to Children's Hospital.”

Everyone can help in some way, big or small, says Stephens, who, along with her school's parent-teacher organization, held a special movie night for which the cost of admission was a DVD donation to Children's Hospital.

“Children's Hospital treated us like royalty the entire time we were there, and the staff treats all the children like royalty,” Stephens said.
“The people there care so much. We love Children's Hospital.”

People interested in making a donation should contact Volunteer Services at 322-2379.

For a copy of the Child Life wish list please visit the Children's Hospital website at, then click on “Toy & Supply.”