Holiday Toy Drive benefits children’s hospitals across the Pacific Northwest

PASCO, Wash. — Dozens of children’s hospitals across the Pacific Northwest will benefit from a Holiday Toy Drive being held throughout the region this weekend.

Jasmine Ellwood and her family started the annual event just three years ago – right after Jasmine’s cancer went into remission. For her family, the toy drive is a personal triumph.

“We got together and we kind of said ‘Let’s do this for the community. Let’s do this for the families,'” said Jasmine’s sister Alysha Ellwood. “I don’t think we’re ever going to stop doing this. We’re going to do it every year.”

READ: Small Business Saturday to support 41 local shops in Downtown Yakima

Jasmine was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma bone cancer in 2018. She and her family spent a lot of time in the hospital during her 15 rounds of chemo and 51 rounds of radiation treatments – including during the holidays.

“We had such kind people help us out with Christmas gifts,” Jasmine said. “So once I got out of treatment, I’m now three years in remission, we decided we want to give back. And it’s, I think, the best decision we’ve ever made.”

The toy drive isn’t just focusing on the younger kids, but teenagers and parents too. Often times, children’s hospitals have a large selection of toys for younger kids, but not a lot for older kids. For parents, gift cards to places like Walmart, Target, or even gas cards means a world of difference.

“We know first hand what it was like to go through treatment and that financial burden,” Jasmine says. “So now that we’re out, we know not only what the children are feeling like because of what I went through, but I know how the parents are feeling like being in the hospital.

READ: Tri-Cities Airport gives tips for the holiday travel rush

“I’m sure everyone that’s going going through it is struggling in some way. So that’s our biggest thing is focusing on getting them their gifts and helping the parents out.”

This weekend, toy drives were held at Walmart stores in Hermiston and Pendleton, Oregon, as well as Pasco, Kennewick, and Chehalis, Washington. Law Enforcement and Walmart Transportation volunteers will be collecting toys from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 27th and Sunday, November 28th.

All new and unwrapped items collected will be distributed to area hospitals, regional children’s hospitals, and Ronald McDonald House locations.

If you missed the toy drive collection but would like to still donate items, you can reach out to the #JasmineStrong Facebook page.

READ: Holiday shopping starts locally at Custer’s Arts and Crafts Show