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Fun Toys Inspire Future Donations

Hallie donates toys similar to items she received at Shriners Children's Chicago.

Patients of all ages have fond memories of toys and gifts at the hospital, which inspires some of them to donate.

Hallie, age 8, a patient at Shriners Children’s Chicago, was born with unilateral complete cleft lip and palate, in which a baby’s lip does not form properly, resulting in a split on one side of the lip. She received her first palate repair surgery in Indianapolis and unfortunately, it was not a success.

“This was tough on Hallie and for us as parents,” said Katie, Hallie’s mom. Her parents researched other options and ultimately chose Shriners Children’s Chicago.

“We felt comfortable immediately from walking in the door for our first visit and have never looked back,” said Travis, Hallie's dad. Hallie and her family said the trust that’s built between patients, family, and staff at Shriners Children’s Chicago makes even difficult surgery days a little more comfortable.

Mitchell F. Grasseschi, M.D., plastic surgeon at Shriners Children’s Chicago, repaired the child's palate successfully.

After her first surgery, Hallie received an American Girl doll. This is just one of the many toys Hallie would receive after a visit or surgery. “These gifts really do make a big difference for those tough procedures, and we are so grateful,” Travis said.

Since then, Hallie and her family said the staff members here have surpassed their expectations with a team approach.

After a couple of procedures, Hallie asked her parents where the toys came from, and her parents said, “Well, people donate them.” After that moment, Hallie decided she wanted to pay it forward and give back to a place that has given her a new smile. Hallie and her family brought in a donation full of toys and games for patients. One of the toys was a squishmallow, a stuffed animal similar to one that Hallie also received.

We feel like they treat Hallie like family and not a number.
Katie, Hallie's mom

From Mexico to Chicago: Inspired to Give Back

Luis was a patient at Shriners Children’s Chicago and Shriners Hospitals for Children — Mexico. Luis, 18, recently graduated from his pediatric care. Before his last appointment, the teen knew he wanted to give back in some way. After some thought, Luis decided a donation for future patients would be the best option. He donated over 110 new decorative sports pillows. He said because of his care it was important to pay it forward as a form of gratitude.

“The toys and items I received over the years at Shriners Children’s Chicago and Mexico have really made a difference during my visits, whether they were long or short. I still remember all of the toys and items I received. I hope future patients benefit from these pillows, not only that but I hope it puts a smile on their face as it did for me when I received a gift from Shriners Chicago,” said Luis.

Luis with donations

Luis with his donation of new pillows for patients.

How You Can Help

If these stories inspire you or your child to consider donating toys, here are some important reminders. As a children’s hospital, we have specific requirements on items that we can accept. Donations must be new, in the original packaging, and contain no natural rubber or latex. Fabric items must come from a pet and smoke-free home, regardless of the storage method. Donations are accepted for all ages from infant to late teen.

“As a pediatric rehabilitation hospital, we see many of our patients for weeks, months, and often years. The in-kind donations that we receive allow these great kids to continue to positively experience their childhood with toys, games, and activities, even in a hospital setting,” said Mary McCauley, donations coordinator, Shriners Children’s Chicago.

Donations are accepted throughout the year, and if you can’t make it to the hospital, visit the Shriners Children's Chicago Ways to Give page.

As you can see, donations play an important role at Shriners Children’s Chicago: They provide a cushion for children when they may be nervous about an upcoming visit or procedure.

“Hallie isn’t thrilled about having ongoing procedures, but is always excited to come to Shriners Chicago because she knows that even though the procedure may be difficult, she will most likely get a reward for being brave, and that comforts her,” said Travis. “She associates these toys with comfort and trusts in her medical team, which is such an important part of her medical journey. If she trusts the team at Shriners Children’s Chicago, then all the visits and procedures run smoothly.”

Our care goes above and beyond, and because of that, patients like Hallie and Luis, who have a positive experience, choose to pay it forward. Donations big or small make a difference for our patients and their experience during their time at Shriners Children’s Chicago.

Patient Donations Past and Present

Hallie and staff member shows donations and toys received from previous donors.

Hallie with toy

Hallie with her squishmallow before surgery.

female patient holding toy

Hallie with doll she received after a visit.

staff member with donations

Mary McCauley, donations coordinator, with a donation.

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