SOMERS POINT – Thanks to the Atlantic County Toys for Kids program and its generous sponsors, the holidays will be a little brighter for the young patients at Shore Medical Center.
Greg DePiano, a retired Atlantic County Department of Corrections sergeant, 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.
The toys that were dropped off on Dec. 22 include 200 coloring books with crayons, speakers and teddy bears children can hug while they receive their IV shots.
DePiano said his dad was a patient at Shore for extended stays. During his visits with his dad, 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 in dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s really nice for children who are in the hospital to have something to do to keep their minds occupied,” DiPiano 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 for the Toys for Kids sponsors who help to make this happen.”
Recently, DePiano’s service dog and mascot of the Toys for Kids program, Trooper, 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.