Utah County businesses donate over $13k in toys to Shriners Children’s Hospital
On a chilly Wednesday morning, just a few days before Christmas, a white horse-drawn carriage pulled up to Shriners Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.
The carriage was heaped high with red satin bags and, in true Christmas fashion, driven by none other than the Grinch and Santa Claus.
This display was the collective effort of several Utah County businesses — Xlear Inc, Wicked Audio, Dowdle Folk Art and Endzone Hobby Center — who collected over $13,000 worth of headphones, puzzles, and more to donate to Shriners.
James Empey, a Brigham Young University football offensive lineman, also lent a helping hand by dressing up as Santa Claus for the occasion.
“It’s fun to show up at a children’s treatment center with Santa Claus and a bunch of gifts,” said Blaine Yates, co-founder of Xlear. “We found out that they were looking for items to incentivize the children in their treatments… so we jumped in on that when we heard that there was a need there.”
The toys donated will be given to patients at Shriners not just to enjoy, but also as a way to motivate them to meet milestones. Children going through rehabilitation and physical therapy will be able to choose a toy as a reward for all of their hard work.
“There are some days that we have patients coming in from other states and other countries that are here for 6-8 hours… So these are great time fillers to keep those kids entertained. Also, as an incentive for them to meet goals,” said Nancy Wiscomb, event coordinator and donor development at Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City. “It’s always exciting to have our community’s support, we can’t run this facility without having community support so it’s extremely important to us.”
Adrian Paz, a patient ambassador for Shriners, also helped to deliver the donated toys to the hospital. According to Paz, who has received care at Shriners for Spina Bifida, getting to ride in the horse-drawn carriage and help deliver toys was a special experience.
“It makes me feel really good and happy to give back,” he said. “I like it.”
Chelsey Paz, Adrian’s mother, said that they have enjoyed getting to be a part of the toy donation process, having received donated toys themselves.
“We oftentimes get to be here at the hospital for treatments and we are at the receiving end of getting the little gifts that make your appointments much better,” Chelsey said. “So it’s nice to be a part of giving back that piece to the hospital because we know from experience how big of a difference these kinds of gifts and donations make to the hospital because we’ve been on the other side of it.”