Pediatric patients at Winthrop-University Hospital were smiling after receiving a special delivery from the Little St. Nick Foundation.
On April 3, 14-year-old Raymond Mohler, founder of the Little St. Nick Foundation, unveiled his new gift bag program at Winthrop, delivering 1,000 gift bags filled with beanie babies, coloring books and crayons, which Winthrop's Child Life Specialists will give to pediatric patients who are admitted to the Pediatric Emergency Unit.
The Little Saint Nick foundation was founded by Mohler at the age of 5, after he had developed a joint hip disease that left him in a double leg brace for two years.
Feeling grateful that his disease was not life threatening, Mohler decided to return to the hospital with his own Christmas presents to cheer up patients still in the hospital.
The next year, Mohler went door-to-door to raise money to purchase new toys for children in the hospital. In 2005, his efforts grew so big that the Little Saint Nick Foundation was born, with the mission of making hospitals a kid-friendly place.
"We are so appreciative of The Little Saint Nick Foundation's generosity and know that these gifts will have tremendous impact on young patients at Winthrop," said Nicole Almeida, MS, CCLS, Director of the Child Life Program at Winthrop. "Their gifts are already providing an abundance of smiles for our patients, lifting their spirits and helping to ease the fear that many children experience during hospitalization."
Last week, Mohler was named as one of America's top 10 youth volunteers of 2012 in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program for his work.
Winthrop's Child Life Program is dedicated to helping children understand and cope with the hospital experience. Certified Child Life Specialists utilize therapeutic play, arts and crafts, entertainment and playful education to ensure that the hospital experience is as stress-free as possible for children and their families.
Child Life Specialists are available in the Hospital's Pediatric Emergency Unit, the Cancer Center for Kids Outpatient Center, the Pediatric Specialty Center and the Hagedorn Pediatric Inpatient Center.