JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Santa made a stop in Jacksonville “slightly” ahead of schedule Thursday and handed out toys to the kids at Wolfson Children's Hospital.
The hospital's annual toy drive included a visit from Jolly Old St. Nick in his red velvet suit with his sleigh of toys in tow. He went door-to-door at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, handing out toys to unsuspecting kids.
Ariah Morris, a 5-month-old with sickle cell anemia, was brought into the hospital with a fever of 104 degrees.
“We had a rough night, didn’t we sister,” Ariah's mother, Lexus Jnbaptiste, said.
But once Santa arrived, Ariah’s day got brighter as she started dancing and playing with her new toy.
“It cheers them up and makes them feel a whole lot better,” Jnbaptiste said.
According to the hospital, donors gave more than 4,600 new toys with an estimated value of more than $48,000. During the final push Thursday morning, community members dropped off 2,598 toys outside Wolfson Children’s. On top of the toy donations, the drive generated $3,820 in monetary donations for Child Life team members to purchase developmentally appropriate toys for children of all ages.
The hospital said the toys help kids through the healing process, making them more comfortable while they are sick and away from home and distracting them during procedures.
Pat Kirkland works with children’s families every day and knows the impact the toys have firsthand.
“It is hard to express in words because a picture is worth a thousand words, but if you could see the smiles these toys bring -- their eyes just light up,” said Kirkland, manager of Family Support Services.