Preparing gifts for children in the hospital this Christmas
A Winter Garden moms group is assembling gifts for children who must spend the holidays in the hospital.
| 9:15 a.m. December 2, 2015
West Orange Times & Observer
WINTER GARDEN The Christmas before her father-in-law died, Winnie Harrell and her family spent the holiday with him in the hospital.
It was her son’s first Christmas, and Harrell found it a disappointing way to spend the holiday.
“Even though we had a Christmas tree, even though we had our family there, it was still — you’re not home,” she said.
Two years later, the memory of the experience of Christmas in the hospital still sticks with Harrell. But this year, she’s a part of a group that is helping her do something about it.
The Winter Garden Mommies Facebook group is bringing Harrell’s idea to fruition.
The group is organizing a Build a Box project where they are making 200 Christmas boxes for children at Florida Hospital South in Orlando.
The shoeboxes are filled with age-appropriate gifts for children ages 3 and up. The moms plan to fill the boxes with gifts that will entertain children but not require the kids to be active while they are in the hospital. Stuffed animals, stickers, small cars, books, crayons, puzzles and sketch pads are some of the items.
On Dec. 23, the group will deliver the boxes to the hospital, and the hospital will work to make the experience even more meaningful for the children.
The nurses will bring the gifts overnight and lay them at the end of the children’s beds. When the patients wake up on Christmas morning, they will find their present.
“Even though we had a Christmas tree, even though we had our family there, it was still — you’re not home.” — Winnie Harrell
The hospital expects to have 120 children in the hospital on Christmas morning, but the moms want to make sure they make enough boxes so every child in the hospital can have one. The extras will be handed out later. The hospital has a capacity for 200 children, so the group is making 200 boxes.
They hope to have all donations in by Dec. 20, but the group is eager to receive donations whenever it is
“Honestly, if someone calls me on the 23rd in the morning, I would still take it,” said Melinda Thompson, a group administrator.
The group hopes that Build a Box is a success so it can continue to do it for years to come.
The Winter Garden Mommies was started by Tiffany Ridgley at the beginning of 2015. She had recently moved to the area and wanted to meet other local moms. In less than a year, the group has grown to more than 650 members on Facebook. They are a resource for one another and often get together for play dates with their children.