Merrill Rotary Club holding Holiday Toy Drive for pediatric in-patients
BY TINA L. SCOTT
The Rotary Club of Merrill announced it is holding a Holiday Toy Drive to bring holiday cheer to hospitalized pediatric patients across Central Wisconsin. The drive, already in action, invites community members to donate new, unwrapped toys that would be appropriate for children of all ages.
This is the first time the Merrill service club has hosted such a drive, and its members are hoping it will become an annual event.
Their goal is to “ensure that children spending Christmas in the hospital receive a special gift,” Rotary Club members said. “Santa Claus,” assisted by Rotary volunteers, will distribute the wrapped toys to participating hospitals throughout Central Wisconsin on Christmas Eve.
The Rotary Club is asking that toy donations be dropped off at the Merrill Eagles Club, 1205 Lake St. in Merrill, during normal business hours. Additional drop-off locations will be announced as they become available. Updates are available online at: merrillrotary.org/santa.
When selecting toys to donate for this drive, remember pediatric wards typically include children in a wide age range, from infants to teenagers.
The Merrill Rotary Club provides the following toy shopping tips:
- Infants (0-2 years): Soft toys, rattles, and musical toys are great for this age group. Make sure they are easy to clean and have no small parts that could be a choking hazard.
- Toddlers (2-4 years): Consider sturdy, washable toys like building blocks, simple puzzles, and plush animals.
- Young Children (5-7 years): Arts and crafts supplies, action figures, dolls, and board games that encourage imaginative play are suitable for this age group.
- Older Children (8-12 years): More complex board games, science kits, craft kits, and books can be both entertaining and educational.
- Teenagers: Gift cards, challenging logic/problem-solving and mystery-based board games, books, age-appropriate video games, puzzles, or model kits can be good choices.
“Remember, the goal is to bring joy and comfort to these young patients,” Rotary Club representatives said. “Toys should be new, unwrapped, and safe for a hospital environment – avoid items with sharp edges or small, detachable parts. Thoughtful selection can make a big difference in brightening a child’s stay in the hospital.”
The Rotary Club is also accepting monetary contributions to help pay for wrapping paper, bows, and decorations, and to purchase additional toys, as needed.
The deadline for all donations is 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec, 19, 2023, to provide enough time for wrapping and preparing gifts for Christmas Eve distribution.
“While the primary focus of the drive is on hospitalized children, the club is also open to expanding its reach to other children who may be in need of holiday cheer,” said Rob Moore, Public Image Chair for the Rotary Club of Merrill.”
“Our initial hope was to bring presents to sick children who couldn’t be home with their families on Christmas Eve, but we realize there are many children who may not fit that description who could also use some holiday cheer,” Moore said. “We welcome ideas and suggestions from families and agencies who may know of ways we can reach any child who needs a little bit of Santa’s magic.”
The Rotary Club of Merrill actively participates in various service projects within the Merrill community, ranging from educational initiatives to health and community development efforts. The club is part of Rotary International, which includes over 1.2 million members in more than 200 countries, and focuses on addressing key humanitarian issues around the world, such as promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, supporting education, and growing local economies.