‘Future generation philanthropists’

The third annual Epic Toy Drive came rolling in true to form this holiday season—a group of giving students with a busload of toys.

Filled to the brim with toys, a big yellow school bus from Hopkins, Michigan, braved the snowy roads Wednesday morning as it traveled to Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

In short order, Hopkins Public School District students were carrying the fun into the children’s hospital—large boxes overflowing with toys, crafts, books and stuffed animals.

With just 12 days to go before Christmas, the toys are destined to find their way to happy hands.

This year marked the third annual Epic Toy Drive, which began after Dawson Babiak, then 4, had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“Being here with my family, I appreciate so much the things that they do,” said Dawson’s father, Jason Babiak. “Just by doing something as small as giving them a gift to bring a smile to a child’s face when they are going through a hardship. It’s a burden which the Child Life team then doesn’t have to go out and find those resources—we bring it to them.”

More than $8,000 worth of toys were donated to the children’s hospital from the Epic Toy Drive. After unloading hundreds of toys from the bus, the students went on a guided tour of the hospital.

“We serve over 190,000 pediatric patients here,” said Devin Pierson, foundation specialist. “So your toys actually make a huge impact here and make that experience less scary for the folks that are in here.”

Whether they’re given to children during a long day of chemo treatment or just during a procedure, the toys serve as a shining light to what may seem like a dark and gloomy day.

This was the first toy drive for Hopkins senior Nolan Pickett, also the president of his high school’s National Honors Society.

“It’s awesome to come here and see the impact we are having on all these kids,” Pickett said. “This is definitely something I’m not going to forget.”

The day concluded with James Fahner, MD, division chief for pediatric hematology and oncology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, personally thanking everyone for the donations and answering any questions they had about the hospital.

“I think all of you guys are our next future generation philanthropists,” Dr. Fahner said. “You all are a part of our team now—whether you are planning on going into medicine or not. This is the most special gift you can give the children’s hospital and we appreciate each and every one of you.”

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