Six-year old Tonya Puckett of Bethlehem asked for a lot of toys in her letter to Santa Claus this year, but not for herself.
“She said she wanted Santa to take care of the sick kids at Kosair,” mother Tina Beasley said.
Beasley said her daughter has shown a desire to help children with illnesses before.
Puckett is a first-grader at Eastern Elementary School who already has donated ten inches of her hair to Locks of Love. She was just four years old at the time. Tonya’s hair has just one inch more to grow before she will donate it again.
In the meantime, Tonya Puckett’s Christmas wish is to collect toys for children who will spend the holiday receiving treatment at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville.
“I want to take (things) like dolls, stuffed animals and checkers,” she said, “to make them happy.”
“She has such a big heart,” Beasley said, “even though she’s kind of quiet and shy. I told her I’d talk to Santa.”
Kosair is the only children’s hospital in Kentucky.
According to its affiliate Web site, Kosair Children’s Hospital admits 8,000 children each year, handles 50,000 emergency visits and has 10,500 outpatient clinic visits.
Kosair Children’s Hospital Foundation executive director Lynnie Meyer said many Henry County children benefit.
“We are a big Henry County referral source,” she said. “In 2008, we had 700 inpatient and outpatient referrals.”
Meyer said although the hospital routinely receives gifts and donations through companies and individuals, Puckett’s idea is the first of its kind in her recollection.
“You’ll find kids who do it as part of a birthday or companies who do it as a holiday charity,” she said, “but this is the first initiative I’ve seen from a child like this.”
Beasley said family and friends already have purchased inexpensive games and toys.
“We’ve bought puzzles, Play-Doh and all sorts of things,” she said.
Beasley hopes that word of Tonya’s quest will bring out the generosity in Henry County. “My child has opened her heart, and we thought if we could get help from the community,” she said, “even (just) $1 would be appreciated.”
Beasley suggested coloring books, crayons and other small, inexpensive gifts that can be found at local dollar stores.
Meyer said a list at
HelpKosairChildrensHospital.com offers ideas that address specific needs.
She said the neo-natal unit has requested such items as squeeze toys and mobiles and the adolescent unit is looking for donations of hand-held games and journals.
Beasley said her own family is going through tough financial times, but Tonya’s determination inspired them.
She has collected unemployment benefits since being laid off from a job at Eminence Speaker. Husband Timothy is the family’s sole breadwinner. Tonya has two older brothers, Robbie Calvert, 14 and Dalton Puckett , 9.
“I look on the positive side,” Beasley said. “There’s people in this world a lot worse off than we are.”
Meyer said the presents are set to be delivered in person to Kosair Children’s Hospital on Dec. 23.
“Tonya and I will load the toys up and take them to the hospital,” Beasley said. “I’m just trying to make my child’s Christmas wish come true.”
The toys will be given to the children bed by bed by Child Life Therapists.
Those who want to help Tonya Puckett collect toys for Kosair children may reach Tina Beasley at 845-8030.
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