Tampa General Hospital employees roll in toys and games donated through its Christmas in July drive.

By Jadon Khor

“It becomes like a second home,” said Dawn Harvey.

Mother to a frequent patient at Tampa General Hospital (TGH), Harvey knows very well the ins and outs of the pediatric floor: the hard work the nurses put in, the ways kids can get grumpy in the hospital and even the overarching impact of the hospital on the community. She also knows the critical importance of making sure the kids get their due fun, a goal TGH hopes to reach through its annual Christmas in July drive.

Christmas in July was started at TGH as a way to help relieve patients of the lack of toys and entertainment that they seem to find themselves in halfway through the year. After Christmas, donated toys, books and video games start to run stale or overused, making kids “get a little blue,” said Lindsey Stevens, senior director of development at TGH.

Come COVID-19 and social distancing measures, the sanitation efforts of the TGH team prevent patients from overcrossing toys, something that Stevens said is making the Christmas in July drive this year much more instrumental.

Residents have been making this Christmas in July drive a success. According to Stevens, compared to previous years, there has been a tenfold increase in generous support from the Tampa community donating goods listed on its Amazon Wish List.

And so, even with financial hardships striking communities, Stevens and Mike Masem, vice president of development at TGH, said, “there’s a groundswell of support that we’ve been able to tap into and was always there.”

For Harvey, it was extremely important that TGH gets enough attention drawn to its drive, for she said the emotional support for patients and their families is of great importance.

Toys and goodies from TGH’s Amazon Wish List are critical to ensuring it gets the resources it needs to not only keep its patients happy but to also make sure the hospital can stay running through the pandemic. Donate today by visiting the Tampa General Hospital website at www.tgh.org/christmas-july.

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