Thanks to the Atlantic County Toys for Kids Program (ACTFK) and its generous sponsors, the holidays will be a little brighter for the young patients at Shore Medical Center, according to a press release.
Greg DePiano, a retired sergeant from the Atlantic County Department of Corrections, has been running the Toys for Kids Program for the past 36 years.
The program connects the community with children by providing an average of 15,000 new toys to local hospitals, municipalities, churches and organizations every year.
On Tuesday, 200 coloring books with crayons and teddy bears were some of the gifts supplied.
DePiano explained that his dad was in Shore for extended stays and during that time, he realized that sick children needed a distraction.
The anxiety of not feeling well and being in a hospital is overwhelming for kids, especially this year dealing with COVID-19 restrictions, he noted.
“It’s really nice for children who are in the hospital to have something to do to keep their minds occupied,” he said. “I’ve been a part of this program for a long time and we have helped many children. I’m proud of that and grateful to the ACTFK sponsors who help to make this happen.”
Recently, Trooper, DePiano’s service dog and mascot of the ACTFK passed away. Trooper was 18 years old and had visited kids in the hospital, bringing smiles with his gentle, calm demeanor and wagging tail.
Trooper made the kids feel happy and safe at the hospital during his visits. He will be greatly missed by staff and patients, the press release said.