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Hobbies on a Budget: How to donate to local children’s hospitals

By Sharon Williams

Contributing columnist

Most of us think about giving back to the community during the holiday season, but giving to others should be something we think about year round.

This past week, I contacted the Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville to get some ideas for how to make a difference in the lives of the patients and families affected by illness.

The good thing about these tips from Norton is that they apply to all hospitals. If you have a local hospital that you want to support, give them a call and ask them if these are things that work for them!

• Send gift cards: When children have to spend extended time in the hospital, families spend time on the road. There are many extra expenses involved in traveling back and forth to the hospital. Not only is there additional gas money needed, but the families often need to eat many unexpected meals at restaurants.

By sending gas cards and restaurant gift cards, the families are able to get some relief while their child is getting the care needed in the hospital.

Send toys: Have you thought about how hard it is to keep your kids calm and still when they are sick for a few hours at home? Yes, a cartoon or electronic device works well for a while, but what do you do when they get antsy or tired? One of the particular needs of the hospital is brand new toys for preschoolers and small children.

Remember that most of the children are restricted to their beds, so think about toys that can be enjoyed in the bed.

Donate socks and underwear:  There are some children who go into the hospital for planned procedures and have time to pack their bags from home.

But there are others who end up at the hospital with nothing but the clothes on their back. The hospital is in need of brand new socks and underwear for children of all ages.

Donate toiletries: Parents don’t always prepare for overnight stays at the hospital with their children. The hospital keeps small toiletries on hand for the adults who need toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant etc. This is a great way to donate those samples everyone ends up accumulating from hotel stays.

Remember, all donations must be brand new and in their original packaging. This helps protect the patients and ensures infection control.

Include a personal note: Everyone loves a personal touch. When you send your donations, take a minute to write a note. Write neatly and make it easy to read.

Remember that you are sending these things to children.  You might even want to use crayons and print.

Even though you may be praying for the children and families involved, they may or may not welcome the thought of prayers or scripture.  So keep your message general.  Instead of saying “Praying for you” maybe you could say “We’re thinking about you today!”

What the hospital does not need: When I spoke with the representative from Norton Children’s Hospital I asked her if there is anything they do not need at this time. She expressed that they are very fortunate to have plenty of stuffed animals and special supplies for the NICU unit and preemies in the nursery. 

So although many of us love to share stuffed animals and donate to the babies, that’s not their focused area of need.

For more information on ways you can support Norton Children’s Hospital, you can call the hospital foundation at (502) 629-8060 or visit Norton Children’s Foundation.

Have you thought about donating things like this to a children’s hospital near you? I’d love to hear your stories!

For more ideas on hobbies and life, check out Hobbies on a Budget. (www.hobbiesonabudget.com).