Two Sarah Bush Lincoln employees and their families are going the extra mile to bring joy to children receiving care during the holidays.
Physical Therapist Haley McQueen, DPT, and Women’s Healthcare Nurse Practitioner Leslie Taggart, APRN, and their children, delivered 160 toys on Monday for girls and boys who are hospitalized in SBL’s Women and Children’s Center or receiving care in the Emergency Department or Pediatric Clinic after hosting an impromptu toy drive.
McQueen and Taggart both serve as home distributors for Matilda Jane Clothing in their free time and they are amazed by the overwhelming response they received when they invited friends and community members to sponsor a Matilda Jane doll at a reduced price to bring joy to a girl in the hospital at Christmas time. In return, McQueen and Taggart agreed to match each doll sponsorship with a toy truck or tractor purchase to provide cheer to a boy receiving care.
Within 24 hours, both women had secured sponsorships for 40 dolls each or 80 dolls total. Then, SBL coworker and friend Mandy Snowden jumped in to help by securing a sizeable discount from Rural King on the purchase of 80 trucks/tractors for the toy drive. “It was important for us to buy these toys locally and Rural King was so gracious in offering us an amazing deal,” McQueen said.
While both women are thankful for the opportunity to spread joy and make a child’s hospital stay brighter and less frightening, McQueen said she became motivated to host the toy drive after feeling helpless to help a friend with a sick child around Thanksgiving. “The holidays are a difficult time to be in the hospital, especially for children, and I am overwhelmed by people’s generosity and genuine desire to help,” she said.
Taggart was anxious to participate in the effort. “I wanted to do this toy drive because pediatric patients have a special place in my heart. I started my career as a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurse at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis and then as a peds/labor and delivery nurse at Sarah Bush Lincoln before becoming a nurse practitioner. Being in the hospital during the Christmas season is especially difficult for young patients and their families,” Taggart said.
Taggart knows firsthand how meaningful it is to be on the receiving end of a such a gift. Her family received a special gift from a pediatric hospital when her twins, Luke and Claire, were born premature and spent two and half weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. “It was such a wonderful treat during an incredibly difficult time,” she said.
With seven kids between them, McQueen and Taggart also hope to instill a sense of generosity and service in their children. The children were all smiles as they made the rounds delivering the gifts to three different areas at Sarah Bush Lincoln on December 23. “It’s Important for us to support our hospital as well and teach our children the importance of giving back,” McQueen said. “My kids were very excited to deliver these gifts.”
Taggart agrees, “My kids and I wanted to give back to the hospital that has provided such great care to us. I wanted them to have a tangible way to show kindness to kids their age. We had such a great opportunity to offer some Christmas cheer to patients and their families who are receiving care during this holiday season.”
Cutline: Leslie Taggart (left) and Haley McQueen (right), accompanied by their seven children and two cousins, delivered toys to the SBL Pediatric Clinic on Monday. The two families also delivered toys for kids in the Women and Children’s Center and the Emergency Department during the holidays.