Alaska hospital receives massive donation of stuffed animals

Fairbanks hospital receives stuffed animal donation
Fairbanks hospital receives stuffed animal donation

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital welcomed more than 800 new arrivals to pediatrics in the shape of soft, new friends for Fairbanks’ youngest patients.

Teddy bears, giant plush horses and stuffed snowmen cruised up to the hospital at 3 p.m. Thursday in a procession of classic cars.

“We’re the Vernon Nash Car Club, and in July we had a Teddy Bear Benefit for the kids at the hospital,” said Doris Casey, organizer of the benefit and a retired nurse at the hospital.

The benefit was part of the club’s annual car show, during which members collected the toys.

“This helps the kids who come in who are totally scared and traumatized to being in the hospital,” Casey said. “It’s a scary place for little kids and they like the stuffed animals. They know they can relate to that and snuggle with it, and they can take them home.”

Casey, along with about 11 other car club members, came to the front entrance of the hospital’s surgery tower Thursday afternoon, with toys secured in the back of an antique flatbed. The club members helped hospital employees unload the bears and carry them inside while AdriAnne Pennington, nurse manager of pediatrics, thanked the group.

A new tradition of giving

This is the second year the hospital has worked with Casey and the Vernon Nash Car Club on a teddy bear donation. Last year, the benefit brought somewhere between 500 and 700 stuffed animals, according to Casey. This year they brought in nearly 900.

All of the plushies that came through the doors will be given to children who are admitted to the hospital, according to Pennington.

“So, it’s really nice because this is a really scary experience for them,” she said. “You know, they’re petrified. They don’t feel good, they’re having to get poked with needles and all kinds of stuff, and so anything that we can do to help make it slightly less terrible, you know, is what we try to do.”

Pennington said a lot of times, when employees meet with younger patients, they’ll introduce themselves and then give the child a teddy bear or if a child has to go through something scary, they can give them one afterward.

The hospital and the car club are already gearing up for next year’s donation. The club plans to hold its car show in Pioneer Park in July.

“So mark your calendars, start collecting teddy bears and we can have a wonderful turnout to do more stuffed animals next year,” Casey said.

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Read the original story by Kyrie Long of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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