One by one they came, appliance-sized boxes filled with trucks and trains, dolls and action figures, footballs and Teddy bears, carried by officers with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
A parade of toys carried by a parade of department vehicles with Santa riding atop an airboat drove up, all to the delight of Batson Children's Hospital patients.
Each year, the MDWFP holds a Stuff the Truck toy drive for the state's only hospital for children and raises funds for the hospital's child life department, which helps patients cope with the challenges of hospitalization and illness. This year, through gifts and fundraisers including a sporting clay tournament, officers raised $16,000.
âWe're pleased to announce the donation of these toys,â said Lt. Chris Reed of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. âThis is a great cause, and it is an honor to serve these great kids and staff at Batson Children's Hospital.â
Lt. Chris Reed of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks presented Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and chair of pediatrics, with a check for $16,000. The money raised during fundraisers throughout the year will go to child life at the state's only children's hospital.
Patients on hand for the visit were thrilled, as Santa handed out gifts to each and threw in a magic trick, making candy appear with a little sleight of hand, and a few dance moves. More than one child checked to make sure Santa's beard was real - and it was.
Said hospital school and child life coordinator Laurie Heiden: âThis is so wonderful. We thank you all from the depths of our hearts for this tremendous gift.â
The toys will help hospital patients have a happy holiday this month, she said, but they will also allow for everything from gifts for children in the hospital on their birthdays to rewards after treatment.
Also helping child life keep childhood a time of fun will be the financial gift, which can be used to augment supplies of toys and books, purchase electronics used to keep patients up-to-date with schoolwork or buy gift cards to use as rewards for patients.
âBecause of your kind gifts, our children will have a brighter, more joyful holiday season,â said Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and chair of pediatrics. âYou truly exemplify the spirit of giving.â