What they do:
THE Children's Hospital Foundation is the corporate fundraising arm for Manitoba's largest children's hospital, responsible for $5 million worth of programs and services every year.
The funds are channelled to everything from music therapy and the hospital's in-house television station to the playrooms for children and seed money for pilot programs such as the Alcohol Syndrome Clinic, now a permanent clinic.
At Christmas, foundation staff take calls from families whose children have had the experience in other years of Christmas in a hospital bed.
Typically, calls come from families who want to give back the goodwill they remember receiving, foundation executive director Lesia Sianchuk said.
"At Christmas, the community wants to give back and they come forward to give us toys. We get more calls at this time of the year. It's not like we're going out and asking for toys," Sianchuk said.
Hopes for the holidays:
EACH Christmas, every child at Children's gets a gift. It might be a stuffed animal, a video game, or a toy of some kind. The gifting extends to emergency patients. Every child is remembered.
With 125 beds and a rapid turnover in patients, the hospital needs lots of gifts. "We need several hundred because of the kids who are coming and going all the time in the system."
Sianchuk said that with extra pressure on charities at this time of the year, she understands there are a lot of campaigns in which toys will be collected. So the generosity of people who give to the hospital without being asked deserves a special kind of gratitude, she said.
Hospitals have to be extra strict about the condition of donations as well. Nothing "gently used." Gifts, especially plush toys or anything with material on it, have to be brand new. Used goods collect dust and allergens can spread, making sick children sicker.
Sianchuk said there is no set target for items the sick kids needs; they're open to all calls.
How to help:
CALL foundation staff, 204-787-4000, with donations of goods and cash or questions about your gift. Some used videos, say for play stations or consoles, may pass inspection. Every child has a TV and a video player at his or her bed.
Corporate donors often give cash and office workers will use Christmas parties to raffle off prizes to raise money for the Children's Hospital Foundation.
Volunteers interested in donating their time are encouraged to call Health Sciences Centre. They have a component for Children's Hospital.
Next summer, Children's celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Teddy Bears' Picnic.