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“Bedside Toy Store” Making Spirits Bright for Hospitalized Children During Pandemic

Families receive toys for sick kids and siblings at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital through a socially-distanced version of its annual holiday toy store.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. —  For years, Santa’s workshop was transported to Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

The in-house “North Pole” was full of shelves stocked with toys, offering families a chance to pick out free gifts for their children who were hospitalized as well as their siblings.

The COVID-19 pandemic means hospital teams can’t run their usual holiday toy store this year – but the toys will come to families instead.

Through a “bedside toy store,” the Mott Child and Family Life team took on elf roles and went “shopping” for hospitalized kids. They worked with parents and guardians to find the perfect gifts for patients and their siblings and then delivered presents to families in bags to store away for Christmas.

“We recognize that being at the hospital is a stressful and difficult time for families, especially during the holidays,” says Child and Family Life Director Lindsay Heering.

“We hope to at least ease one stress by helping them take care of holiday shopping without leaving their child’s side.” 

“We are incredibly thankful for the generous donations from the community that allow us to bring families this holiday cheer every year.”

The toy store began in 2012 as an effort to distribute the overwhelming amounts of toys and other items that are donated during the holidays and throughout the year from the community, while also lifting spirits for children and parents.

In typical years, the holiday store is a three-day event involving 20-30 volunteers who help wrap and stock shelves.

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