Rotary toy drive for ETCH Christmas kids

Tom KingFarragut

As we begin our 2020 holidays with a day of Thanksgiving, we know full well many will spend all or part of their Christmas in hospital beds. That includes close to 152 children at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH).

The Rotary Club of Farragut’s holiday project this year is to collect and provide 152 Christmas toys for Santa to give to those kids and young people hospitalized on Christmas Day, to brighten their days and make sure they don’t miss this special day. The Santa bags are left at the foot of each kid’s bed.

Scott Bertini

Scott Bertini is RCF’s newest member, and he brought this project idea to the attention of the club’s service projects committee. The committee said let’s move full-steam ahead. Bertini agreed to coordinate the project.

When they were small babies, Sarah and Scott’s twins, Noah and Anniston, spent a lot of time at ETCH. They were born prematurely and had lung issues, Scott said. They were there during Christmas too. “This is something personally near and dear to my heart as my son and I had to spend Christmas in the hospital,” Scott says. “When he was given his bag of toys, the joy on his face was incredibly special, and it meant the world to my family.” The twins are now 5 and doing great, he said.

Bertini’s garage has become the reception and assembly center to prepare the gifts for delivery to ETCH on Dec. 15. The deadline for the club to receive gifts is Dec. 11.

The gifts will be delivered in 152 handmade Santa Christmas-themed bags being created and sewn by students of the Hardin Valley Academy Interact Club, which is sponsored by the RCF. The club also began a new-toy drive last week at the school for the ETCH patients that will run until Dec. 4.

If you would like to join in on this project, we’d love to have you. You can click on the link to our page on Amazon to order a toy here.

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Price Range: In the $5-$20 range.
  • Age Range: Infants to 21 years but most under 18. Some ideas for older children would be craft kits, science kits, gift cards, board games, books, etc.
  • What Not To Give: Used Books/Stuffed Animals

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, the speaker at the club’s weekly meeting will be Cheryl Allmon, director of Volunteer Services at ETCH. Allmon said any toys left over above the 152 will be delivered to their home health care and rehabilitation patients. She said 37 families also have been adopted for Christmas.

If you have any questions about this project, please reach out to Scott at 865-898-4421, text him at that number or email SCOTT or call Service Projects co-chair Sonya Ford 865-323-3780 or email SONYA

To explore membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, email or call 865-659-3562. Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.

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