- Jill Heilman
Halle's 17th Birthday Toy Drive Success
Just over a week ago, we were able to celebrate Halle Grace's 17th Birthday by spreading joy and toys to children who so desperately could use a little pick-me-up at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa.
This was our 2nd Annual Halle Grace Toy Drive and it was certainly a huge success - thanks in a large part to all of you who were willing to donate! We began this event last year to take some of the "sting" out of missing Halle so much on the day she born, as well as to continue to fulfill our promise to her to keep her name alive after her passing. We had no idea how much this event would grow over the course of one year! We were able to collect over 520 new toys, games, crafts and iTunes gift cards in the two months leading up to her special day, June 2. Friends, family and strangers got involved and started collecting and sending things our way.
We received knocks on our door several times a week with friends standing on the other side holding arms full of toys! We became well acquainted with our UPS and FedEx delivery guys as shipments were sent to us from around the country with more and more donations! Little notes were included wishing Halle a "Happy Heavenly Birthday" or "Thinking of Halle" or "Halle you will never be forgotten." Mail poured in with gift cards to Target and Toys R Us, as some people were not able to shop themselves, so they gave us the blessing of shopping for more donations. Neeley and Ben got right to it and picked out gifts they knew someone their age would want if they were in the hospital. We also picked up a few Barbie dolls, as that was a favorite of Halle's when she was younger.
Once all the donations were in, we had student volunteers that helped us organize and count the hundreds of items that were going to St.Joes! Thank you to Ellise Grizio and Neeley Heilman for their time and effort to get us set for delivery!
As we arrived at the hospital, I ran inside to let them know we were there for the delivery. While I waited to speak to a Child-Life Specialist, I saw a volunteer walk by with the toy-cart that is taken into the children's rooms. I was surprised to see the cart almost empty, with just a few coloring books and crayons. I assumed they had just finished their rounds and the toys had all been given out for the day. It wasn't until several Child-Life Specialists came out to receive the toys, that we were told we could not have come at a better time! Their supplies were almost totally depleted and they were so in need of these donations. I couldn't help but smile, knowing Halle knew the perfect day for us to bring all this to the hospital and knowing she was smiling down from heaven as she always has loved bringing joy to others! Her birthday certainly was outstanding this year!
Our hearts are overwhelmed by the many messages, donations and love and support given to us around this time of year. We as a family, feel truly blessed that Halle's life continues to make such a strong impact on others even after she is gone.
Again thank you all for making the 2nd Annual Halle Grace Toy Drive such a huge success!
Until next June 2!