Every child looks forward to the holidays with great excitement and anticipation. So, thinking about spending it in the hospital creates a little fear and increased anxiety.
That’s why the Child Life staff created All Kids Wonderland four years ago. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital saw the need for a special holiday for children who will be spending theirs in a hospital bed. When an unexpected illness or a tragedy happens, often families are either too preoccupied with caring for their child to think about buying and wrapping gifts, or they simply can’t afford the luxury with added expenses they may be facing. Many families travel great distances to have their child treated at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. The idea of planning a holiday – even for the rest of their family – seems impossible.
Through the generosity of volunteers and community donors, All Kids Wonderland is adults-only shopping set up in the Outpatient Care Center on the hospital’s main campus. The store front is filled with donated presents and gift cards for parents to “shop” for their family members. The “shopping” is at no cost to the families. It provides that moment of normalcy where moms, dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters can look for that perfect gift for the patient and his/her brothers and sisters.
Volunteers install batteries, help put toys together, wrap gifts and provide that overall holiday shopping experience and atmosphere for our patient families. Gifts are always new items that are donated throughout the year from individuals and local corporations. Corporations, local businesses, sports teams, churches and neighborhood groups help fill the shelves year after year to ensure that our sick children celebrate the joyous holiday season.
Child Life Director, Kristin Maier summed it up when she shared: “Our patients are so overwhelmed when they find out about this program. One father simply broke down when he saw the room filled with bicycles, games and toys. He said, ‘I thought I was going to have to be a bad dad this year.’ It can be really emotional,” she adds.
The benefits of the program go beyond gifts. “Children need normalcy when they are in a hospital environment, and this gives them a moment to forget everything else that is going on and just enjoy. It’s invaluable to our patients and their families and we are so grateful to our donors for making it happen every year,” said Kristin. In fact, more than 1,000 individual and corporate donors participate in this event annually, providing gifts and their time. At least 200 families will benefit again this holiday.
Gifts for donation can be dropped off in the hospital lobby.
Gifts for infants are top of the list, as up to 50 percent of our patients are under a year old. Infant-through-teen underwear is always needed. Gift cards for Target, Walmart, ITunes and movie passes are popular with teens and the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital Amazon Wish List will send your gift directly to the hospital for your convenience.
Corporate sponsorships are available for this event. Contact Anysia McDowall at 727 767-2953 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.