Christmas toy donations continue in Eastern Carolina

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – More than 40 plastic bins full of gifts for kids were stacked onto carts and rolled off at Vidant Health’s Maynard Children’s Hospital on Wednesday in less than an hour’s time.

The work was done by high school kids involved in the Pitt County Schools Health Sciences Academy.

“I know a lot of people have a tough time this holiday season and it’s just good to just give them something to help out in a way,” Walt Moore, 15, said. “Give them a big hug, basically.”

The program aims to teach high school students who are interested in health science to have a servant’s heart, which was demonstrated by the more than 218 families who contributed, collecting gifts and gift cards from their community.

“Every year, I think it just grows more and more,” program coordinator Nancy Turner said. “Students are just wanting to give back any way that they can.”

For child life specialists who provide support during a young patient’s medical journey, receiving support means a lot.

“Definitely since Covid, we’ve still seen so much love from our community that wants to take care of our patients just as much as they have in the past,” Ellyse Bochna, Vidant Health child life specialist said.

Bochna said Christmas is when they get a majority of the donations, but they’re able to utilize what they get year-round, giving gifts to kids who have gone through difficult procedures or when their treatment ends or they have a birthday, for example.

“People are gonna be so excited,” Bochna said. “I feel like every year it just gets better and better and we’re able to provide more and more for our patients and their siblings and their families and just try to make Christmas a little bit easier during a difficult time.”

The love is shared across Pitt County, where another program, Toys for Tots, is about to wrap up in December.

“We have 29,631 children registered here in Pitt County,” Rev. Dr. Rodney Coles said. “We’re still in the need of about 3,500 toys to finalize this year’s campaign. For us, being parents, we have to concern ourselves, paying a light bill, mortgage, and whatever bill we may pay, but that’s not a child’s responsibility. Their responsibility is to learn… and to have fun and enjoy life.”

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