A heart-warmer for the holidays: Student interns collect toys for hospitalized children
Published December 21, 2023
Sophia Johnson says she has always felt an urge to do something “important” to give back to her school and her community. “At the beginning of my junior year I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do to make my mark,” said the John Hersey High School junior.
So when she was approached with the idea of organizing a toy drive for young patients at Northwest Community Hospital (NCH), Sophia jumped on it.
Currently an intern at NCH’s Pediatric Acute Care Center, Sophia knows how important toys are to children receiving care at the Arlington Heights hospital. “And from my time interning at NCH, I saw how much they gave to kids,” she said.
Sophia went back to school and found students willing to help out. Senior Amanda Lendino, a former health care intern and an executive board member of the school’s Scrubs Club, and a group led by student Shyla Sood helped make posters and donation boxes, which were placed at all the Hersey entrances for a month.
The result? Sophia and Amanda dropped off a sleigh full of toys at the hospital on Friday, December 15. Some of the smaller toys may be given to patients when they are discharged, but other large items—including a dino play set and a new scooter—may be kept at the hospital for patients to use during their stays.
The hospital was very grateful for the donation; they noted the impact the toys have on bringing cheer and keeping the little ones busy while in the care of the PACC.
“I was so happy to contribute to such a good cause,” said Amanda. “At this time of year, a lot of homeless shelters are collecting Christmas gifts for children, but it’s really important to also give back to kids in hospitals who could use some extra joy in this season!”
For her part, Sophia said her internship at NCH has been a gift in its own way, helping to clarify her career goals. “I started my internship wanting to be a surgeon, but now I’m looking more at the pediatric route, or even medical education,” she said.
“We are immensely proud of and grateful for Sophia and Amanda's civic-minded spirit,” said Barb Kain, District 214’s director for career discovery. “As student interns in health care, both have seen the impact a toy can have as an activity or a distraction for children who spend time in the hospital awaiting care. We are also grateful to Northwest Community Hospital, host to hundreds of D214 students over the years, for their continued partnership with District 214 to provide work-based learning opportunities."
Celebrating and organizing the donations to the toy drive for Northwest Community Hospital were (from left to right):
NCH volunteer manager Kelly Behrens, Hersey High School senior Amanda Lendino, Hersey junior and current
hospital intern Sophia Johnson and Pediatric Acute Care Center manager Rochelle Sowa.