By Shannon Joslin, MS, CCLS
Child Life Manager
University of Maryland Children’s Hospital
Being in the hospital at any time is a challenge, but especially so for young patients during the holidays. Children miss their family, friends and their traditional holiday activities.
Here at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH), it’s a little easier thanks to some generous people in the community — grateful families of current and former patients, companies, local businesses and other individuals who open their hearts and checkbooks to allow the Child Life Program to host the second annual Snowpile event for children and families in the hospital over the holidays.
The Child Life team sets up a toy workshop from Dec. 21 to Dec. 23 each year and invites parents of children who are in the hospital over the holiday to come shopping (for free) for their child.
In addition to the toys, every parent is able to “stuff a stocking” full of goodies for their child in the hospital as well as stockings for any siblings at home so they don’t feel left out while their brother or sister is hospitalized.
We have volunteer gift wrappers to help with wrapping the gifts and we have coffee, cookies and snacks for parents so they can take a moment for themselves in the midst of their child’s hospitalization. Last year, we had Girl Scout cookies donated through a troop whose leader works at UMMC. This year, we got donated food and drinks from the Au Bon Pain restaurant in the hospital lobby and The Penn Restaurant nearby onPratt Street.
Parents either take their gifts with them if there’s a chance their child is being discharged before the 25th, or they leave them with our Child Life team for delivery on the 25th. Parents who have participated have commented on how this was such a help, for two reasons — finances are usually tight and their time to go shopping is limited because they want to stay at the hospital with their child.
If you would like more information about the Child Life Program at UMCH or how to help support children and families in the hospital, please visit our Child Life Web site.