UK HealthCare

Help Make the Holidays a Little Brighter for Patients at Kentucky Children's Hospital

photo of presents under tree

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 6, 2019) — Spending time in the hospital for illness or injury is no fun for kids, especially when they have to be there during the holidays.

The staff and volunteers of Kentucky Children's Hospital do all they can to make the holidays merry and bright for young patients. From holiday parties to caroling nurses, they ensure kids that they won't miss out on any of their favorite holiday traditions. And that includes a visit from Santa, who assures them that even though they are in the hospital, he and his reindeer will still pay them a visit on Christmas Eve.

"We try to create special events for families and patients so they can celebrate the holiday like they were at home," said Jennifer Guilliams, Child and Family Life Coordinator. "We've had children that have said things such as 'I didn't realize Santa was going to come because I wasn't at my house.' The opportunity to be able to provide that has been a blessing."

But Guilliams and her team couldn't do without help from the community. The Child Life Staff welcomes donations during the annual KCH Toy Drive. Click here for the wish list that includes art supplies, craft kits, DVDs and games. Links to Amazon and Target wish lists are included on their website, and gift cards and monetary donations are accepted as well.

Donation drop-off dates are:

  • Saturday, Dec. 14,  9 a.m.–1 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 16, 1 p.m.–6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 17, 1 p.m.–6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 18, 1 p.m.–6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 19, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

Donors should contact the Child Life Department at to receive directions to the drop-off location and a confirmation for your donation.

Outside UK, volunteer groups from across the community organize gift drives for the hospital.

KCH partners with Jarett's Joy Cart, a non-profit organization that delivers toys to patients throughout the year. Jarrett Mynear started the Joy Cart in 1999 while a patient at KCH. He wanted to find a way to help his fellow patients, and bring them some joy during their stays. Jarrett passed away in 2002, but his mother family keeps the holiday tradition going.

"Jarrett wanted kids to know that we were thinking about them," said Jennifer Mynear. "Especially having been through a lot of what these families are going through, being in here right up to the holidays."

Click here to read more about the Joy Cart and how to get involved.

In 2015, Sunny King, a volunteer in KCH's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), started the Snow Bunny Baby Project, collecting donations for families with newborns as a way to provides support and essential supplies during a stressful time. King and her team are accepting donations until Dec. 15. The most requested items are:  

  • Baby Wash
  • Diapers, size 2
  • Baby Wipes (150-200 count)
  • Infant Toys
  • Infant Wash Cloths
  • Onesies (size three to six months)

To make a donation, contact Sunny King at, or visit their Facebook page. Monetary donations are also accepted.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.