Being in the hospital is never fun, especially for a child, and especially around the holidays.
Young patients at Schneider Children's Hospital enjoy some toys recently provided to them by Senator Charles Fuschillo's "2nd Annual Extend the Holidays Toy Drive."
But Senator Charles Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), with the help of some local community members, helped make the stay a little easier to bear for some patients at Schneider Children's Hospital recently, through the presentation of hundreds of new toys.
The senator's "2nd Annual Extend the Holidays Toy Drive" culminated last Friday, Jan. 7, with the delivery of more than 500 toys to the Child Life Playroom of the hospital. The gifts were donated by residents throughout Fuschillo's district, which includes Farmingdale and Massapequa, as well as the uniformed officers of the Nassau County Sheriff Officers Association. The 8th district residents dropped contributions off at Senator Fuschillo's office, and the Sheriff Association collected toys from the corrections officers at the Nassau County Jail. The officers also helped deliver all the toys to the children.
"To bring a smile to these kids' faces, when they're going through the toughest times in their lives, is very rewarding," said Fuschillo. "We thank all the residents who donated them and the corrections officers at the Nassau County jail who donated and collected them."
The gesture of kindness also seemed to lift the spirits of the parents who attended, because they were able to see their children experience a moment of happiness during a difficult period.
"I think all these kids need a pick-me-up. I think it's a nice surprise," said Peggy Moran, mother of 11-year-old Kaitlin, a patient at the hospital and student at Candlewood Middle School, Dix Hills. "They go through really hard times. A lot of times it's very painful. It's just really a nice thing that they remember them like this. It really is very thoughtful."
Moran noted that the treatments and procedures which child patients often have to undergo in the hospital force them to grow up too fast, but that receiving a delivery of new toys can help them again feel the wonder of being a child.
"A lot of them have to grow up before their time. They lose their childhood. These extra special, magical moments bring a little of that back," she said.
Michael Adams, president of the Sheriff Officers Association of Nassau County, said seeing the smiles on the children's faces made the collection and delivery of toys a worthwhile deed. He added that getting the toys, as well as the visit from the senator and sheriffs officers "brightens the day" for the children. "It's relief," he said.
Fuschillo initiated the toy drive last year after learning about opportunities to help the children from Geri Fessler, past president of the Children's Medical Fund, Bellmore-Merrick Chapter. A non-profit, volunteer-driven organization, the Children's Medical Fund is devoted to supporting Schneider Children's Hospital. It raises funds for medical equipment to enhance exploration in areas such as oncology, neurology, and education. Among other programs, the organization also helps finance the Child Life Program, designed to lessen the stress of a child's hospital stay through therapeutic play and activities.
Fessler noted that "Any and all acts of kindness, whether it's done by the senator or myself, or the people in this room, makes a huge difference in these children's lives, whether it be for their short stay or long stay."
The toys will be distributed to the Schneider Children's Hospital patients appropriately according to their developmental needs, according to Carolyn Agins, Child Life Specialist at the facility, which accommodates a maximum of 125 children. Agins expects the gifts to have a positive effect on the young patients. "It enhances their spirit," she said. "It lets them know people care about them."