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Blair E. Batson’s Holiday Toy Drive goes virtual for 2020

Story written and submitted by UMMC

This holiday season, Santa’s helpers are asked to order from Children’s of Mississippi’s wish list on Amazon and Walmart.

“To limit the spread of COVID-19, we’re asking the many families, individuals and businesses making toy donations to order through our wish lists,” said Jen Hospodor, director of community partnerships at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “This will keep our community safer and will ensure contactless delivery of toys that will brighten the holidays for our patients and their families.”

Patients in the state’s only children’s hospital at Christmas receive gifts selected for their ages and interests. Toy donations through these online wish lists will make those holiday surprises possible. More information is available at umc.edu/inkinddonations.

Toys are needed all year long, for patients in the hospital on their birthday and for incentives acknowledging healthy behavior or completing a treatment, said child life specialist Tiffany Key.

“We need toys and other items especially at the holidays,” she said, “since we make sure each child has a gift bag to help celebrate this special time of year even while in the hospital.”

The range of ages – birth to 18 years old – covered by Children’s of Mississippi care is reflected in the items on the wish lists. Baby dolls and Barbies, trucks and dinosaurs, activity books, art projects and personal care items are on the list. Many of the items included are functional, such as sensory toys for babies and pajama pants, socks and slippers for children and teens.

Prior to COVID-19, donors would drop off toys at the children’s hospital or in designated drop-off areas. Using the online wish lists for giving will limit the number of people in the children’s hospital and on the UMMC campus, protecting patients as well as visitors from the virus.

Children’s of Mississippi, UMMC’s pediatric arm, includes children’s hospital care spaces from inpatient floors inside the Blair E. Batson Tower named for UMMC’s first Pediatrics chair to 88 neonatal intensive care rooms and 32 pediatric intensive care rooms inside the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower.

Named for Sanderson Farms CEO and board chairman Joe Sanderson Jr. and his wife, Kathy, the Sanderson Tower opened for patient care Nov. 2. The Sanderson Tower also includes a dozen state-of-the-art surgical suites, a pediatric imaging center and an outpatient specialty clinic.

“Each of our patients receive holiday gifts at Christmas, from our youngest patients in the NICU to teenagers,” Hospodor said, “because of the kindness of our community.”

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