Nikki Baker, left, Clinton High School chemistry teacher and cheerleading sponsor, gives a load of toys to Ryan Mains and Emma Mikhalek, Office of Development gift coordinators.
Nikki Baker, left, Clinton High School chemistry teacher and cheerleading sponsor, gives a load of toys to Ryan Mains and Emma Mikhalek, Office of Development gift coordinators.
Main Content

Dos, don'ts of Children's holiday giving

Published on Monday, November 26, 2018

By: Annie Oeth,

Kids do make their holiday wish lists, and Children’s of Mississippi is no different.

The organization that includes Batson Children’s Hospital and all University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatric care has a detailed list of donations that will help them care for Mississippi’s kids all year long.

“So many Mississippians give to Children’s of Mississippi each year, especially during the holidays,” said Jen Hospodor, director of community partnerships with UMMC’s Office of Development. “It really is humbling to see them give from the heart.”

This season, dropping donations off at the entrance to Batson will not be possible since a seven-story pediatric expansion is under construction nearby. Instead, Hospodor said a Holiday Donation Drop-Off Week is set for Dec. 17-21.

On those days, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., donations may be dropped off at the Apartment A building on the UMMC campus.

“We want to make this giving experience as simple and easy as possible,” said Emma Mikhalek, gifts coordinator with the Office of Development. “Signs near campus entrances will point the way toward our tent.”

Blake Stone, Children's of Mississippi patient, gives back to Children's Hospital in 2017 by helping his family drop off a toy donation.

Donors do need to follow some guidelines on giving, such as not wrapping donations or making “goodie bags.”

“Because we are a hospital, there are a few things we are unable to accept,” said Mikhalek. “While we’d love to hand out things like stuffed animals to our patients, we have to follow infection control guidelines.”

A complete list of in-kind giving guidelines is available at

To make Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday easier, Children’s of Mississippi has a wish list on Amazon with items ranging from crib mobiles for babies to toys for preschoolers and up. There are even items geared toward teenage patients. Be sure to check hospital instructions before ordering.

Toys and books can brighten the days of patients at Batson Children’s Hospital at Christmas as well as throughout the year. Often they become presents for children who are in the hospital on their birthdays, distractions during treatments or rewards for healthy behavior.

Giving to Children’s of Mississippi can also include donations to its growth.

The philanthropic Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi is helping fund expansion of the state’s only children’s hospital.

Jill and David Dale, founders of the Campbell Bulldog Foundation, and their baby daughter, Stella Grace, are among those donating toys in 2017.

To simplify holiday season giving, donations to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi can be made online at as well.

“We all hope for our children to have happy, healthy lives,” said Natalie Hutto, UMMC’s chief development officer. “This expansion will provide world-class health care in an up-to-date setting that’s close to home. We want Mississippi’s children to have the care they need so they can reach their full potential.”

The expansion, now in its structural phase, will include 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, more space for pediatric intensive care and surgery, an imaging center designed just for children and a pediatric outpatient specialty clinic offering expertise in cardiology, neurology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, nephrology and orthopaedics.

“This expansion will transform the health care of children in this state,” Hutto said. “Giving to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi this holiday season is an investment in our children’s future. Few gifts can offer such hope.”

The Campaign has raised more than $67 million toward its $100 million goal.