Young people who are spending their holiday in a place that does not denote holiday celebration—the hospital—are getting some support from their healthier counterparts attending two Dearborn Schools.
Members of the STAND, or Students Taking a New Direction, club at both Woodworth and Salina Intermediate schools have worked weeks to collect toys for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s “Snow Pile” program, which provides hospitalized children and their siblings toys for the holidays.
Nancy Jaafer, the school psychologist assigned to both buildings, said the effort has been a rewarding one for the students.
“I’ve done some work with Children’s in the past, and this is an amazing program,” she said. “And it’s unreal how much dedication the students at both schools showed to help other young people that are about their age that are in the hospital. You can tell that they are really touched by this.”
For the past several weeks, students collected new toys from other students as well as staff members, and last week, Jaafer packed the toys into her vehicle and transported them to the hospital. About 150 toys were collected at Salina Intermediate; another 120 were collected at Woodworth.
The Snow Pile Program was created in 1996 as a way to assist families—some of whom are financially strapped, others that don’t have time to shop because of the amount of time they spend at the hospital. Once the toys are collected, they are placed into rooms at the hospital so parents can pick out toys their children will enjoy.
“This really helps parents provide a nice holiday for their children under difficult circumstances,” said Lindsay Heering, the manager of Childlife and Volunteer Services at Children’s Hospital.
“We have toys for all children that are here for the holidays, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without drives like this one,” she added. “And what’s best about it is that it’s children that are helping other children, which makes it very special.”
Each child receives three new toys, as well as board game or puzzle, a stuffed animal, and book, Heering said.
Mona Latif, a member of the STAND club, said she can’t imagine what it would be like to be in the hospital for Christmas.
“I think people should be at home for Christmas, and I like helping the kids,” she said.
Jaafer said she thinks the students are learning a valuable lesson this holiday season.
“They are learning to appreciate what they have,” she said. “They are learning the concept of sacrifice, joy, empathy and the spirit of giving without receiving.”
Doing Good in Dearborn Schools: Watch for more stories about how Dearborn students are making a difference in their community every day this week.