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.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.