Allie Gutierrez decided her 9th birthday was a time to give back—with a pile of presents.
Gutierrez donated more than 200 gifts to dozens of pediatric patients at HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Ill., this month. Along with her mother, Amber Barnard—an emergency room technician at the hospital—Gutierrez collected the gifts with a toy drive over 28 days.
“Some of our best donations come from kids because kids know what kids like. It’s amazing to see quite a few kids do this throughout the year,” said Megan Leathers, a child life specialist at St. John’s. “There are always smaller donations, but no donation is too small.”
The patients aren’t told who or where the gifts are from, but they are always grateful, Leathers said. It’s touching to see children filled with empathy and generosity donate presents to a selfless cause, she added, but Gutierrez made an event of it because she chose to donate the toys to celebrate her special day.
“They brought (the presents) in on her birthday because that was what she actually wanted to do,” she said, adding, “I’ve never seen this from someone who wanted to do it on their birthday before.”