South Texas Health System Children's Child Life Program Receives Generous Donation from Spirit Halloween

Thursday, February 22, 2024
Hospital administrators holding the large check

Following a local fundraising campaign that ran for several weeks in the lead-up to Halloween, Spirit of Children, a nonprofit program launched by Spirit Halloween, presented a check to the Child Life Department at South Texas Health System Children’s during a special ceremony held at the facility on Thursday, February 22. The check, for $63,187, a 10% increase from 2022’s previous record total, represents funds the organization raised locally through the sale of costumes, décor and more at five Rio Grande Valley-based Spirit Halloween stores during the Halloween season.

For six years, Spirit of Children has been a major supporter of STHS Children’s’ Child Life program through their partnership with the Auxiliary to STHS and the hospital. During that time, Spirit of Children has raised more than $263,000 locally through in-store sales and donations at its specialty retail stores in the Rio Grande Valley, which are only open from August to November. Spirit of Children generously donates a portion of proceeds to the Auxiliary to STHS, which is then used to help fund the hospital’s Child Life Department.

Child Life Program at STHS Children's

Learn more about our Child Life program →

In addition to the creation of the Children’s Healing Garden, an outdoor space launched at STHS Children’s in February 2022 to give patients an opportunity to enjoy a little sunshine and diversion during their hospitalization, the funds have enabled the Auxiliary to STHS to purchase a sensory rover, which provides multiple sensory options to help soothe hospitalized children by providing them with a calming and interesting distraction.

Moreover, the funds raised have helped the Child Life program purchase supplies for holiday activities held throughout the year for the hospital’s pediatric patients; playroom supplies such as coloring books, markers, crayons, and construction paper; art painting supplies for bi-monthly visits with UTRGV art students; Xbox gaming supplies and subscriptions for the teen playroom at STHS Children’s; Disney+ access for all hospital rooms; toys for children requiring medical attention in the emergency room; and clothing for migrant patients such as underwear and socks. They have also helped fund visits from Santa Claus.

“At STHS Children’s, this is our 18th year being in service to our community and it means so much to us to have the generous support of businesses like Spirit Halloween that are so compassionate and so driven to do good for our kids,” said Lance Ames, Chief Executive Officer, STHS Edinburg and STHS Children’s. “It’s just exciting to see this long-standing partnership and all Spirit Halloween franchise operators and their employees all coming together to do more and more for Valley kids every year.”

Ames recognized the continued efforts of the Auxiliary to STHS to find new ways to help our pediatric patients as well as children in the community, and thanked Spirit of Children for their ongoing work and support. “To have Spirit of Children come back year after year to help support this children’s hospital and what we’re doing means the world to us,” Ames added. “We know that the future is very bright for STHS Children’s and for the awesome kiddos and their parents in this community because of their generous hearts.”

The STHS Children’s Child Life program aims to make hospital stays easier for young children and their families through non-medical treatment and healing play. Child Life specialists focus on the emotional and psychological well-being of our pediatric patients to reduce stress for them and their families.

With the support of Spirit of Children, STHS Children’s was able to host its first in-person Spirit Halloween Party for patients in which kids were able to choose a Halloween costume from hundreds of options and take part in arts and craft activities throughout the month of October. “Whether or not you're feeling up to the fight has so much to do with whether you're going to win that fight. And these kids have so much against them already,” said Amanda Fox, District Manager, Spirit Halloween. “Keeping their spirits up and actually being able to fight that fight and deal with what they're facing every day — and giving them just a little bit of hope and a little bit of joy in that — I think it's extremely important.”

Additionally, in early October, patients were visited by Spider-Man, Batman and McDonald’s’ The Hamburglar as part of a Superhero Day sponsored by the Auxiliary to STHS and Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Texas. It’s all part of STHS Children’s commitment to providing quality, compassionate care to Valley children and their families that goes beyond the medical. It's important work made possible with the support of organizations and businesses like Spirit Halloween.

“The impact is immeasurable. Their donations provide all the things that we need to host activities for our kids that are fun for them,” said Kimberly Davis, Pediatric Administrator, STHS Children’s. “For patients, healthcare isn't fun at all, especially for kids. It's very scary to them. But these activities help calm our patients and give them a great distraction so that they can get better.”