‘Toys for Kids Mary Bridge’ provides holiday cheer to sick children

TACOMA, Wash. — Christmas came a little early at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, where toys were delivered Thursday morning to children in need.

Jerri Brown has led an effort called “Toys For Kids Mary Bridge,” and this holiday season was no different. The effort began for her weeks ago, but culminated at Target last night.

“We shopped from 9 a.m. to midnight, we have 200 kids and $32,000,” said Brown.

For 33 years, volunteers and sponsors around Tacoma have bought toys for chronically ill children and their siblings.

Many of them are cared for at home and can’t even get to Mary Bridge Hospital. That’s why Brown —who often considers herself the head elf of this effort — puts on her elf cap and gets to work along with some other helpers.

“It’s getting bigger every year. More people are learning about it and feeling the need. We had to cap it off at 200 kids,” said Brown.

The group came to Target in Tacoma Thursday morning to retrieve the toys that were bought Wednesday night, and were there right when the store opened at 7 a.m. Danielle Brunson is also part of the effort and knows the need only gets bigger each year, so these elves also get more efficient.

“We were in and out (of Target) in 20 minutes, which is amazing for us,” said Brunson.

Target eventually helped the group with boxes for dozens of rolls of donated wrapping paper. The toys were brought in a moving van to a special room at Mary Bridge Hospital, where parents will pick them up and get them to kids who can’t get to the hospital for gift-giving events but can have a true holiday season.

Brown says this level of help is what makes the holidays brighter for the people who work on the effort and for the people getting the gifts.

“It’s just a great part of Christmas knowing that we can help and make a kid feel normal, if you will, for a day and have their family be stress-free and have everything on their wish list,” said Brown.

This year, Brown did say that they had to cap the number of children they could help at 200 since they would not be able to get enough toys for a group that is larger than 200.

The organizers hope that in years to come if their group gets noticed more sponsors will step up and help them purchase even more gifts so they can help more children and families in need.