Social work students hold successful toy drive for local children’s hospital

By Jaime North, Digital Marketing Specialist

There will be some added holiday cheer for Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital this season courtesy of Bloomsburg University’s Social Work Club, which collected more than 85 toys this fall through its annual toy drive.

There was renewed energy this year, according to Kelsey Lowrey, a social work major and club president, due to the missed opportunity last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Because of the rapport our club has built with the hospital, every year we reach out to the liaison and ask them what they need specifically,” Lowrey said. “Often the answer is toys for babies and toddlers. We spread the word for the campus to direct toys at that age group.”

She added, “While we’re unsure how many children this serves exactly once the hospital collects our donations, we know they’re put to use in making a child's stay a little more comforting.”

The holiday toy drive as added meaning for Lowrey and her fellow social work majors.

“The medical field is part of our profession too,” Lowrey said. “As social workers it’s important for us to remember that not every family in every community gets to spend that holiday together, or at home.”

In fact, Lowrey said she personally enjoyed this year’s drive more than ever.

“I spent time with some of my cases and their families in this hospital this summer, where I witnessed the toys being used as comfort items to help children through painful processes or as a distraction from tests and checkups,” said Lowrey, referencing her internship. “There are a lot of children in need, and there are some who spend months of their life in a hospital.”

She added, “Not only is it children, but also families who these experiences take a toll on. It reminds us that we work with people of all ages. It also reminds of our passion for being social workers, because we remember these families need our support and donating is just the half of our roles of giving back to the communities around us we work in.”

In addition to the toy drive each fall, Lowery said the club conducts a food drive in the spring for the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard.

“We choose to collect food for this organization, because this is a place that becomes a resource to our own university students, as well as the families in the surrounding community of campus,” Lowrey said. “These are the people engaged with the many agencies of the Bloomsburg area in which our students branch out and intern at during their senior year. We enjoy giving back to the community that gives us so many opportunities for growth and preparation for our careers!”