Hospitalized kids receive gifts for the holidays from community partners

KENNEWICK, Wash. – Jen Little and her family know a thing or two about spending holidays in the hospital.

“People don’t feel good, they’re isolated from their family, all the events that would normally take place,” she said.

When her son, Jazz, was three years old, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

“Spent the first few years of his life more in the hospital than out; different birthdays, holidays, Christmas,” she explained.

“Just laying in the hospital, wondering what’s gonna happen within the next few hours of when I was gonna get out and go interact with other people,” Jazz, who’s much older now, recalled.

So, when he was healthy enough to leave, Jazz had an idea.

“At five years old, he was like these kids need to know that nobody forgot about them just because they’re in the hospital and not with their families on Christmas,” Jen explained.

They started collecting toys to donate to children in local hospitals during the holidays.

Eventually, Jen enlisted the help of her radio co-host Adam, with 94.9 The Wolf, local businesses and police departments.

“I was stunned by last year, and this year it’s even greater. It’s definitely amazing to see everyone come together especially during the pandemic,” Jazz said.

Usually, Jazz and his brother Jaxon hand-deliver the gifts to children, but due to the pandemic, they can’t this year.

The day started by loading up a truck at the radio station, followed by a police escort to Trios Hospital then Kadlec; when they arrived, the boys, along with others helped unload the dozens of toys.

“One thing I look forward to, probably my most favorite part about Christmas,” the brothers said.

Jen said this year, the toy drive was even more important since hospitalized kids have limited visitors.

“It’s pretty amazing, especially as a mom who’s been in that position and you would give anything at all for your child to have a little bit of joy,” she said.

Jenny Jones, a Child Life Specialist with Kadlec, will deliver the gifts, after they’re fully sanitized.

“Just to see their faces light up, parents are smiling, the care givers, the nurses, the staff that are handing out these toys they’re beaming it’s just so much fun. Something that reminds them of happiness, something normal, it can totally change a kids day,” she said.

Everyone involved encouraged others to continue to give back to the community, especially during the holidays.


More from Madeleine Hagen:

Walla Walla students build and paint desks for students without workspace 

Oregon teacher takes virtual learning to the kitchen