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The gift that keeps on giving

three people in santa hats waving from behind piles of toys
A truckload of toys arrived at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital on December 18, 2017, the 11th annual delivery from Spirit Mountain Casino. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

A truckload of toys arrived at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital this week, the 11th such delivery logged by Spirit Mountain Casino in as many years.

“So many of us at Spirit Mountain have had our own lives touched by the services and beautiful people that work at Doernbecher,” said Shawna Ridgebear, director of marketing for Spirit Mountain Casino. “This is really our favorite event to do throughout the year.”

Every year, the casino holds a five-week toy drive to kick off the event. Spirit Mountain then purchases an additional $5,000 worth of gifts: “So we can make sure the donation can really last throughout the year,” explained Ridgebear.

Beth Fitzpatrick knows just how important the donation really is. She relies on the donated toys all year long in her work as a child life specialist at OHSU Doernbecher.

She says these toys are much more than comfort items for ill children. This donation plays an important role in supporting children emotionally, therapeutically and developmentally.

woman smiling as she helps carry a large box of donated toys
Peggy Adams from the Child Life Program helps unload pallets of toys. The toy donation allows child life specialists to support children's therapeutic, emotional and developmental needs at the hospital throughout the year. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

“When kids come into the hospital, we want them to stay on target in their developmental journey,” says Fitzpatrick. This is particularly challenging for children who are hospitalized for long periods of time, she said. The toys help them continue their growth.

Some children are in isolation, unable to share toys with others or play in the hospital playrooms.

“We have these toys available and they can still play and have developmental opportunities in their room,” said Fitzpatrick. “Then the children are allowed to keep the toys when they return home.”

“We so value this,” said Fitzpatrick. “We could not provide for the patients and families without this generous donation and community support. It’s a great partnership.”

Steve Bobb, Sr. smiles, holding a large black stuffed bear, as the toys are unloaded from the truck.

“It’s part of the Native American culture to always share the riches and give back,” said the vice chair of the Spirit Mountain Casino board of directors. “It’s an honor for us to be involved with this wonderful organization and the deserving kids.”

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