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Tiny toys make a big difference to kids at Primary Children's

Tiny toys make a big difference to kids at Primary Children's

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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — The playroom is sometimes the only place children staying at Primary Children's Medical Center get to be a kid.

Bucketfuls of donated toys helps to make it even more fun.

And this month, more than a thousand little toy cars have been added to the mix. Gift-in-kind Coordinator Marie Hendriksen said Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars are one of the most-requested items as hospital volunteers go around visiting rooms and playing with the kids.

"It helps them feel more comfortable," she said. "It would not be the same place without it. It reaches the patient as a child. It's a positive, fun thing for a child."

Hendriksen created her position at the hospital about 15 years ago, after she saw many of the hospital's donations going unused or misplaced, or just not being used to their full potential. For the past year or so, she and hospital communication specialist Jason Carlton have been keeping track of and assessing the needs of patients, doctors and staff to come up with requests from the public.

"It helps them feel more comfortable. It reaches the patient as a child. It's a positive, fun thing." Marie Hendriksen

"This being the community it is," Hendriksen said, "we are always overwhelmed with donations."

The hospital has collected stuffed animals, which are helpful to staff members when they're either trying to break the ice with a young patient or when they have to perform a procedure a child would otherwise fight. Other helpful items include:

  • Colorful blankets
  • Clothing for newborn babies
  • Crafts to help keep kids occupied day in and day out during a lengthy stay

One month, the hospital provided a pattern and asked people to bring in homemade capes and tutus. Those things, Hendriksen said, help kids forget why they're in the hospital.

The in-kind donations differ greatly from the financial support the hospital needs to maintain its full function for the state and the thousands of children it serves. Primary Children's still benefits annually from four major fundraising events, including the Pennies by the Inch, Festival of Trees, the KSL Radiothon and the Children's Miracle Network Telethon. Altogether, those bring in about $5 million for the hospital each year.

"That's our community," Hendriksen said. She's confident that every time she and Carlton post a new "need" online, either via the hospital's website or Facebook page, the public will come through for them. And if ever they get too much, she's keen to share whatever is needed with other agencies within the community.



Wendy Leonard


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