Santa leaves North Pole for steamy Jacksonville to benefit Wolfson Children’s Hospital

Santa leaves North Pole for steamy Jacksonville to benefit Wolfson Children’s Hospital
Representatives from all 11 Jersey Mike’s locations dropped off a truckload of toys and gifts during the Wolfson Children’s Hospital Christmas in July event July 25. Standing: Santa Claus, Tatum Smith, Melissa Kirchain, Macie McGrane, Amy Davison, Drew Maider, Chris Causey, Tyler Eaton and Wolfie. Kneeling: Jason Colonna

Wolfson Children’s Hospital learned Jacksonville is a city full of Santa Clauses when it held its annual “Christmas in July” toy donation event July 25.

As of 4 p.m. on drop-off day, the hospital had more than doubled its take in toys and online contributions over last year and was still counting, said Carol Chaffin, a spokesperson for Wolfson Children’s Hospital. So far the month-long toy drive has generated $12,665 in online giving, $105 in cash and checks and a whopping 7,571 new toys – 4,756 during the drop-off event July 25 and 2,586 during the period of July 1-24, Chaffin said. Last year the charitable children’s event collected 3,000 toys, and in the past three years only $6,920 in monetary donations.

On July 25, Santa Claus and his pal, Wolfie, mascot of Wolfson Children’s Hospital, were on hand to greet donors in the circular driveway in front of Baptist Medical Center during the drop-off event. It was the fifth consecutive year Wolfson Children’s Hospital has sponsored the toy drive, which provides toys and games for its patients in order to make their hospital stay less overwhelming.

The pediatric hospital treats more than 80,000 children each year in the North Florida and South Georgia regions, using toys and art supplies to help soothe, distract and ease the anxieties of children of all ages during treatment for illness and injuries. During the donation event, new, unwrapped toys, art supplies and financial donations to purchase developmentally appropriate playthings for children with special needs were solicited between July 1-25 at Baptist Health hospitals and Jersey Mike’s Sub stores.

“Toys are needed all year long,” said Vikki Mioduszewski, a spokesperson for Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital. “The hospital’s toy supply typically dwindles during the summer months, away from the traditional spotlight of holiday giving and year-end charitable donations.”

Online gifts are being accepted until August 1. To donate or see a wish list with price ranges, visit ChristmasJuly.com.

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