Hospital employee donates thousands of gifts to pediatric patients

Hospital employee donates thousands of gifts to pediatric patients

For the seventh year in a row, Jessie Tendayi, a cafeteria worker at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, made a difference in the lives of many young patients. This year alone she delivered more than 1,000 gifts to Advocate Children’s Hospital’s two campuses in Oak Lawn and Park Ridge, spending $5,000 of her own money to purchase the toys she donated.

“I so enjoy bringing any kind of happiness to kids,” says Tendayi. “When you see their faces light up after getting just one toy, you can see how grateful they are and it just makes me smile and cry all at the same time. This is something I love doing every year and it keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

At the beginning of each year, she takes money from each paycheck and sets it aside. She believes the spirit of giving can’t simply be something you think about during Christmas time.

“The reason why I started putting money away in January is because it helps me focus on giving in the beginning of the year,” says Tendayi. “That way you keep that spirit all year long and it helps you to think of others.”

Two years ago, Tendayi was surprised on ABC’s Windy City Live show with $3,300 worth of toys to distribute to Advocate Children’s Hospital patients. Tendayi was selected to be on the show after producers learned of her incredible generosity over the years.

“Jessie is such a wonderful person who has always been so selfless,” said Michelle Gaskill-Hames, president of Trinity Hospital. “You can tell that she looks forward to this time ever year.”

Here are four suggestions from Tendayi to think about to help bring joy this holiday season:

  1. Celebrate family traditions. When families gather, stories get told and retold, which may serve as a fertile ground for creating traditions.
  2. Make a wish list or gratitude list. Instead of a wish list of gifts, encourage your children to create a wish list of hope for family members, friends and people worldwide. Write a list of your own as it may help renew your spirit as well.
  3. Make meaningful gifts. Store-bought gifts can be nice, but ones that are made give the gift a special meaning. Unique gifts that families can make together include photo albums of family get-togethers, care packages to soldiers overseas and custom handmade ornaments
  4. Donate. One of the easiest ways to give back is to donate things you no longer need as well as your time. Before your children receive new toys, have them go through their boxes of old toys that they haven’t been playing with in a while and let them choose which ones to donate.

View photos from Jessie’s special visit, here.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.