HOLIDAY, Fla. – International children’s charity Kids Wish Network has delivered toys and other necessities valued at $40,000 to The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. Kids Wish Network’s Holiday of Hope Gift Banks provide emergency rooms, pediatric units, and other children’s care facilities with age appropriate toys to offer a welcome distraction to children facing often traumatic or life threatening illnesses. Events provide hospitalized children and their siblings with a day filled with music, food, special guests, and thousands of dollars’ worth of new gifts and necessities.
“Our Holiday of Hope Gift Banks provide children in medical facilities nationwide a break from their treatments, as well as hope and encouragement for a healthier future,” said Anna Lanzatella, Executive Director of the Kids Wish Network. “We are so grateful to the generous support of the Arnold and Joy Gottlieb Family Foundation, which has helped us provide gifts to children at area hospitals for the past several years.”
Kids Wish Network is an international charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Although known for its wish granting for children facing life-altering issues, Kids Wish Network also works with more than 180 hospitals and care facilities throughout the United States and Canada to distribute approximately $2 million in gifts and necessities each year.
The generous sponsorship of the Arnold and Joy Gottlieb Family Foundation has allowed Kids Wish Network to specifically provide hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of toys and necessities through their Holiday of Hope Gift Banks to hospitals in Southwest Florida, including The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida in Ft. Myers, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. Kids Wish Network also hosts a Hero of the Month program at these same hospitals, which allows hospitals and child care facilities to nominate one child every month between the ages of 3 and 18 who has faced and overcome difficult circumstances to be their “Hero of the Month.”
Kids Wish Network’s Board member Andy Gottlieb, a trustee of the Arnold and Joy Gottlieb Family Foundation, was on hand with Lanzatella to help distribute gifts to the children in residence at The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida earlier this month.
“These visits to children’s hospitals are among some of the most fulfilling for me – bringing smiles to the faces of young children who may be spending long periods of time in new and sometimes scary emergency rooms and facilities. Our visits help get their minds off of where they are and why they are there,” said Gottlieb, a certified Broward County substitute teacher who volunteers with the Special Olympics as a specialized coach in aquatics, basketball and soccer. “We give them something to smile about, and seeing those smiles is what makes it all worth it for me.”
Lanzatella and Gottlieb distributed gift bags to pediatric patients ranging from a two month old baby to a teenager. Some of the patients who were well enough to leave their rooms were treated to arts and crafts activities that turned paper plates into decorated drums just in time for a “jam session.” For those who were too ill, Lanzatella and Gottlieb visited patient rooms and distributed gifts and toys.
“They lit up like I was Santa Claus,” said Gottlieb. “This is why I am so proud to serve on Kids Wish Network’s Board of Directors. We do so much – from hospital visits to wish granting to providing gifts to children in poverty stricken communities.”
Gottlieb and Lanzatella will team up again in December as Kids Wish Network works to develop an event for Broward County’s Special Olympics.
For photos from the visit to The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org/media.