University students set up toy donation drive to cheer up children in hospital in Northampton for Christmas

"Knowing how grateful and polite they all were to have received the toys had me in tears."

Friday, 17th December 2021, 4:32 pm
Updated Friday, 17th December 2021, 4:34 pm

A toy donation drive organised by kind-hearted university students has put smiles on the faces of children who will spend Christmas in hospital in Northampton.

Students from Childhood, Youth and Families subject areas at the University of Northampton clubbed together and collected more than 200 toys for children on the Disney Ward at Northampton General Hospital.

MA Education student, Daniela Laslu, was the one who thought of the idea.

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Student Ann Marie Mehdi (left) and NGH staff with the donated toys.

She said: “Firstly, I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the students who took part. We received a huge number of toys for children who will really appreciate them; it was a genuinely lovely outcome.

“I am working on a similar project for vulnerable children in Romania at Christmas, so that got me thinking about children in hospital in Northampton and how their Christmas was going to be disrupted.

“The emotions from knowing there are children, from babies to teenagers, who are ill in hospital and cannot be at home for Christmas really breaks my heart.

"I’m a mother myself so I just thought I had to do something to make their Christmas as special as possible.

"Knowing how grateful and polite they all were to have received the toys had me in tears.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing this through to fruition and we students always want to try and help as much as we can, so we are looking at doing something like this again in the future but with even bigger impact."

Toys the students provided – all newly bought – included toddler 'noise toys', giant jigsaw puzzles, colouring books, bracelet-making kits and kinetic sand as well as soft blankets.

The students weren’t able to present the toys directly due to Covid restrictions but they instead arranged for an early ‘Santa drop off’ to staff who work on the Disney Ward.

Fellow MA Education student Ann Marie Mehdi, who dropped off the final collection of toys, added: “Part of what we focus on as Children, Young People and Families students is community and acting as ‘community ambassadors’ to bring people outside UON and students together. The toy donation seemed like a great way of starting this.

“Although we were unable to give the items to the children directly because of Covid measures, the women who met us when we dropped things off were very grateful and we know the children were happy to receive their gifts.

"One of team even created a beautiful thank you note from everyone, which gave us an early Christmas present in return.”