Members of the Tampa Jeep Krewe pose with $5,000 worth of toys bought for children at St. Joseph's Hospital.

On July 27, $30,000 worth of toys was delivered to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital by Tampa Jeep Krewe, a local Jeep organization of over 8,000 members. This was its fifth time participating in the Christmas in July fundraiser, which allows children in the hospital for long periods of time to receive age-appropriate gifts, which can serve to overcome the monotonous routine of the hospital and lift the spirits of patients.

The members shopped for these toys at three different local Walmart locations on July 25, spending a total of about $16,000. They cleared the shelves of the Walmarts on Bloomingdale, Brandon, and Dale Mabry. The volunteers from the Tampa Jeep Krewe who came to shop were sorted into several categories, such as toddler toys, electronics, and crafts. All of the volunteers were enthusiastic and came ready to fill their carts to the brim.

The Tampa Jeep Krewe spent three months collecting the money and toys to achieve its goal of a $30,000 value. At each of the gatherings and socials members collected toy donations, and they raised money through raffles and community events such as Yappy Hour and bowling at The Alley.

The drive was organized by Teri Smith and Lisa Wheeler, the co-leaders of event coordination for the Tampa Jeep Krewe, with the help of many other members. This is an important cause because children stuck in the hospital often miss birthdays and Christmases at home.

The Christmas in July project can be participated in by any business, individual or organization that wishes to help out. St. Joseph’s passes out fliers each year detailing the types of toys that would be good for patients to use. The unique aspect of this project is that the children get to take the toys home when they are discharged.

“It’s not really like these are donations to the hospital, they are donations to the kids. It’s all for the kids,” said Wheeler. 

To learn more about Tampa Jeep Krewe, go to www.thejeepkreweinc.com. To learn about the Christmas in July project, go to www.sjhfoundation.org