A local 7-year-old who has been collecting new toys for the benefit of patients at HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital will receive more help toward her goal of 2,000 toys.
A group of central Illinois motorcycle and car enthusiasts will assist LEXI SONNEBORN with her quest when they host the RIDE & DRIVE IN from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the American Legion, 1120 E. Sangamon Ave.
Attendees will have the chance to view and talk about classic cars and motorcycles. Chili, pulled pork and draft beer will be available for everyone who donates new toys or books. Entry is free and open to the public.
Collecting 2,000 toys was Lexi’s New Year’s resolution. The “2000Toys” campaign has collected 1,026 toys since a Pajama Brunch and Toy Drive held March 5 at Balen’s Bar and Grill, 217 S. Fifth St.
“We also have toys to collect from our drop-off locations, and we also have $688 in a GoFundMe account that we haven’t touched, so that will go toward purchasing toys,” said BETH SONNEBORN, Lexi’s mother.
The Sonneborns are waiting to collect all 2,000 toys before they are delivered to the children’s hospital. So far, they have toys for ages infant through 15, such as books, games, rattles, musical instruments and action-figure sets.
“We have a basement full of toys at this moment,” Beth said.
“Luckily, we have a large basement. I’ll be honest, when Lexi said, and it was truly her idea to do this, and when she said, ‘2,000,’ I said, ‘Sure. Let’s roll with it.’ Now I realize how ambitious that was. It didn’t sound like it at the time, but when you look at the mass of toys we have, you would think we’ve met our goal. But we’re halfway.”
VANESSA TINKOUS, a child life specialist with HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital, said they are looking forward to the donation of toys that Lexi is collecting. The hospital has a pediatric playroom where donations such as toys and craft activities can be used.
“All of those items can be used in our playroom to help do our daily activities and give children opportunities to just play in normalization while they’re in the hospital,” Tinkous said.
“We also use donation toys for prizes. After children have had a procedure done that was difficult or painful, they can pick a toy out of a treasure chest … Donations go for prizes for procedures, birthdays, special celebration prizes, things like that.”
Lexi and her family know that a hospital can be scary and lonely.
Lexi, who was born premature at 27 weeks, spent three months in St. John’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and has had several surgeries and hospital stays since. Instead of receiving presents for her 7th birthday party in December, Lexi asked for gifts that she could donate to children who are in the hospital.
Lexi wanted to continue collecting toys for the hospital, coming up with the idea of gathering 2,000 toys because “she knows…