A young child next to wrapped presents
By Elizabeth Dwyer Sandlin

Bringing Holiday Cheer

Toy Drive Benefits UNM Mariposa Pediatric Hospice Program

The University of New Mexico Children's Hospital's Mariposa Pediatric Hospice program staff and patient families gathered this week for a holiday celebration, thanks to the generous toy drive sponsored by Smith’s Food and Drug and Twilight Homes.

UNM Lobo athletes and other volunteers joined in to help wrap gifts at Santa’s workshop (also known as the End Zone Club at the Lobo Football Stadium).

Cheryl Minns was assisted by the Mariposa program in 2011, when her 5-month-old son Luciano passed away. Four years following his passing, Minns wondered if other families going through similar experiences had the same level of support she’d had.

Wanting to help, she started a toy drive to support Mariposa families during the holidays. Minns asked Smith's, her employer, to help, and the toy drive was born.

The event, held on Dec. 13, was a festive occasion. It marked eight years of the toy drive, which started with just a small number of donations and has grown into a larger in-person event with various activities, such as ornament decorating and visits from Santa and Orbit the Albuquerque Isotopes mascot.

Pediatric hospice patients and their families and siblings were able to come and select their presents, thanks to the support of community partners Twilight Homes and Smiths. The program supplies Mariposa families first and then the remaining gifts go to children at UNM Hospital so they have toys for Christmas.

Tanya Robins, BSN, RN, CCM, with Mariposa Pediatric Hospice and one of the event organizers, has been a part of the toy drive since the beginning.

“It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come,” Robins said. “This has grown into such a wonderful event for our patients and their families, and it’s such an inspiring start to the holiday season.”

Overall, it was a successful and heartwarming event that brought joy to Mariposa families and the UNM community.

Categories: Community Engagement, Health, News You Can Use, Top Stories