Families of Lurie Children's Hospital patients receive toys, gifts for kids during difficult time

Diane Pathieu Image
Thursday, December 21, 2023
Families of Lurie Children's patients receive toys for kids
The families of Lurie Children's Hospital patients receive toys and gifts for their kids during a difficult time.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The hustle and bustle of Christmas is a bit different for families with children in the hospital.

So, on Thursday morning, there was a special shopping opportunity for some at Lurie Children's Hospital.

"This is so amazing, like, there are so many gifts. People are so generous," mother Mariah Culvey said.

It's one less burden for parents Culvey and Tre Taber.

Their 3-month-old daughter, Lelani, has been in the neonatal intensive care unit since the day she was born.

"She was born with vanishing gastroschisis, which means the intestines were on the outside when she was in my womb," Culvey said.

Little Lelani had a surgery the day she was born and more after that. On Thursday, after being in critical condition, she is finally feeling a bit better, and thriving.

With two other young kids at home in Rockford, the couple is having to still make sure there are presents for the children to open.

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"I try to come here when I am off work, and sometimes it's hard 'cause, you know, dealing with two other kids at home, tired, two-hour drive with traffic," Taber said.

That's where Lurie Children's Hospital comes in, making sure inpatient kids and their siblings have a gift to open. All their families have to do is shop.

"These are not what families are thinking about at this time of year. They are thinking about their child growing, progressing, getting healthy. They don't think about getting to the store and buying things," Northwestern child life specialist Katelyn Zilles said.

It's the seventh year for the Winter Wonderland Toy Shop, and it's all free for families.

Parents get to choose from all kinds of gifts for children of all ages. The idea is to give parents one less thing to worry about this holiday season.

All of the toys were donated to the program.

Visit luriechildrens.org/en/ways-to-help/Ways-to-Give/toy-gift-donations for more information.