Kids Helping Kids: Christopher’s Toy Drive

 Becky, shares her son Christopher’s inspiring story and why he wanted to give back to fellow patients at Connecticut Children’s this holiday season. 

img_0708We brought Chris to the ER in January 2015 after he was unable to walk. Doctors found a tumor on his spine which began a whirlwind of scans, needles and a hospital stay that, at the time, we didn’t know how long would last.

The one thing that Chris could look forward to and that we could use as a reminder to get through the next procedure, chemo or scan was the prize box and toys he received for being so brave. Kelly and the rest of the staff at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center were instrumental in helping us through one of the toughest times we have faced as a family and one way we felt we could thank them was by giving back.


Last December, I wanted Chris to give back to the hospital in a way that was meaningful for him and something that was feasible to do year after year. He decided that a toy drive was a good idea because he always looked forward to getting a toy at the end of his visits. He wrote his letter and made a list of family and friends that he would like to ask and send his letter. After the toys were donated, he wrote thank you notes to those who donated to show his appreciation. He did the same thing this year. (Now that he is in first grade, his letter was done much more independently!) He added several people to his list and those that he asked were so excited to help him.


The best part is seeing the excitement on Chris’ face when he looks at the toys people donated as well as when he was giving the toys to Kelly. We hope to continue this each year and that it gets a little bit bigger to be able to make even more kids smile. We are so proud of Christopher for wanting to continue this tradition and for being able to see the importance of giving back!

Season’s Greetings

From watching the news lately, it seems that  between the weather report and the end of the broadcast we will typically see one of those stories that makes you smile, laugh or feel comforted by the goodness of humanity.

The morning and evening news stories are usually a little different during the holiday season, however, and with good reason.  We often see more stories about people being helped during a crisis, meals being served at a soup kitchen, or my particular favorite – toys that are collected for our patients here at Connecticut Children’s.


My name is Jim Shmerling and I’m the new President and Chief Executive Officer at Connecticut Children’s.  One thing you should know about me is I feel it’s extremely important to stay connected with you in as many ways possible. One way to do that is through storytelling.

Stories like the one mentioned above are of particular interest to me because they help pull back the curtain on the wonderful work being done every day at Connecticut Children’s and by many other organizations in this community.  It’s so important to shed light on all the good that’s being done not just during the holidays but all year long.

In fact, the generosity of this community is one of the first things I noted when I moved here from Denver less than 2 months ago.  I’ve worked in pediatric healthcare for over 35 years.  Much like the weather here in Connecticut, it can be unpredictable and ever changing. It’s easy to get caught up in the details, but one walk through the halls of our Medical Center quickly puts things in perspective for me. It also helps me focus my attention on our vision – to make the children of Connecticut the healthiest in the nation.

So during this holiday season, I want to take this opportunity to not only introduce myself but to thank our employees, as well as the businesses and organizations who are not taking a holiday from the holidays, but who will be busier than ever meeting needs, doing good, solving problems and making kids better.

Every single one of these stories deserves a nod on the news.  We appreciate the work you do and the difference you make in our community and in our patient’s lives.

Finally, as we prepare to ring in 2016, I can say that I’m quite excited to spend my first New Year’s in New England.  I look forward to experiencing new places and meeting new people, but I’m most looking forward to the new growth and new opportunities in store for Connecticut Children’s.  That said, I make you this promise:  We will continue to provide you and all the children who enter our doors with the care they deserve in the most efficient, safest and friendliest way possible. We are your neighbor, but most importantly we are always here when you need us.

Warm Regards-