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Donations sought for ‘Operation Snow Pile’ gifts-for-kids drive

By Staff | Dec 6, 2010

The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is seeking the communities help in donations of Christmas presents for the children who have to remain in the hospital over the holidays.
This year, the hospital will have a “snow pile” of items for families at the hospital to relieve holiday stress by providing a shopping opportunity of donated presents. The snow pile will eliminate the need for parents to go shopping, therefore providing more time for the family to spend with their children.
Kelley Cowan, childlife specialist, said they got the idea from Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and Michigan Children’s Hospital, which kicked the program off 10 years ago. She said she contacted them to see how they conducted their snow pile to get ideas for their own.
Cowan said the staff at the Children’s Hospital wanted to step up their game a little more and offer a Christmas for the children. In previous years, volunteers brought wrapped presents to the rooms.
This year the event will allow parents to “direct their own Christmas,” she said. “We will put the gifts in a very large room and the parents will be able to pick out gifts for their child.”
After the parent picks out a present for their child, volunteers will wrap it for them, so it can then be given to their children. Cowan said the parents will also be given a 15-minute massage, listen to Christmas carolers and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies on Dec. 22.
In the past, the community has helped in providing the children with a brighter Christmas by donating presents.
“We have a fantastic community that gives…they help us make this a brighter Christmas for those who have to stay here during the holidays,” Cowan said.
New, unwrapped gifts for children who are newborn to 18 years old can be dropped off until Dec. 20 at the front desk of the Children’s Hospital.
Cowan explained that when she began working at the hospital six years ago, there were only 10 patients at the Children’s Hospital during the holidays. Last year there were 42 children.
“The number is definitely increasing,” she said about the number of children who have to stay in the hospital over the holidays.