MSUToday
Published: June 26, 2017

Toys help kids heal at MSU pediatric clinic

Contact(s): Melissa Jegla MSU HealthTeam office: 517-432-3101 Melissa.Jegla@hc.msu.edu

A Michigan State University pediatric health clinic that manages care for children and young adults with cancer and certain blood diseases has been spreading cheer to their patients through a partnership with The Bottomless Toy Chest.

The MSU pediatric hematology oncology team has been working with the local non-profit organization since 2011 and young patients get the chance to see a brighter side to often difficult visits. Recently, the nonprofit made another visit to the clinic with new toys.

“Any child who is here for a long visit or simply having a rough day, gets to pick a toy from our toy chest to play with while they are here. They then take the toy home,” said Mary Robinson, a registered nurse and MSU HealthTeam supervisor for the clinic. “We are extremely grateful to the Bottomless Toy Chest for their continued support of our children.”

Toys may seem like a small donation, but they often have a lasting impact. Children can remember getting a toy years later, but the act of normal play and the relief it provides from the sometimes grueling treatment protocols can restore a child’s will to continue to fight the disease. The ability to choose a toy of their own gives children a sense of control and something to look forward to when coming to the clinic as well, added Robinson.

The Bottomless Toy Chest works hard to make sure the toys they provide are safe for patients. Each toy is in clear wrapping allowing the parent and child to view and select a toy without actually handling it. This procedure considers the needs of ill children, as some patients have suppressed immune systems and sharing or cleaning toys between patients can be a life-threatening risk.

“These visits are very long and can be difficult for a patient and their young siblings,” Robinson said. “The toys that are shared not only help pass the time while in clinic but more importantly bring joy and happiness to the children. It is truly fantastic to see their faces light up when they pick out a special toy.”