Most people think toys during the holidays are just for fun and games -- but for families with children fighting illnesses or disabilities -- a toy can mean so much more.
McLane Children's Medical Center kicked off their annual toy drive today. Ruthie Davis with McLane Children's said the toys give hope to children at the hospital and bring them joy.
"One of the ways kids grow and develop is by using toys and exploring their environment," Davis said. "We've seen these toys help just emotionally, and from a psycho-social perspective, just to help that child heal quicker and faster."
Davis said the toys donated during the drive have multiple uses. Some are used as Christmas gifts, some are used for therapy, and others are used to restock the toy room.
"We know that if they weren't in the hospital, they would be at home playing -- they would be at school interacting with other children," she said. "Sometimes, just bringing in an item or a toy into a child's room -- that child -- their whole demeanor can just change."
Terry Naquin brings his son to McLane Children's for therapy, and he said he can see how big of a difference the toys make in his son's therapy.
"It's a huge difference... all the stuff that's around here for him to play with helps him out so much," Naquin said. "He's always looking forward to coming to therapy everyday. It's never a fight to bring him here.
The father said the toys make it so that his son is not even afraid to come to the hospital.
"Most kids are scared of the hospital... but Anthony's not scared," he said. "It just feels so good seeing my son being happy, and it makes me happy as a parent."
Davis said the official end of the toy drive is Dec.16th but that toy donations are always accepted. She said people can also visit their online store to donate a gift to a child.
According to Davis, their biggest needs are for infant toys and items for teenagers.
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