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Spirit of Children achieves $1M milestone in supporting Penn State Health Children’s Hospital

Donations fund programs that make hospital stays easier for patients and families

Spirit Halloween has presented Children’s Miracle Network and Penn State Health Children’s Hospital with a check for $112,854, bringing its total contribution from its Spirit of Children campaign to $1,033,981 since 2009. The funds, earmarked for the Children’s Hospital’s Child Life Program, come from donations collected at Spirit Halloween stores, with 100% of local donations staying in central Pennsylvania.

“Spirit of Children is the heart of Spirit Halloween, and it is our pleasure to partner with the Child Life team at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. We couldn’t be happier to break the $1 million mark in total contributions during the 2023 Halloween season. And we are looking forward to reaching our next milestone with Penn State Health Children’s Hospital,” said Jeremy Simpson, Spirit Halloween zone manager.

Spirit of Children contributions support Child Life in various ways, including age-appropriate programming, staff hiring and education, and the purchase of educational and sensory resources. Members of the Child Life team provide both inpatient and outpatient services like medical play, procedural preparation materials, and tours.

“We are very thankful for the commitment of Spirit Halloween and Spirit of Children. In my role, I witness the profound significance of the Child Life Program. Its interventions and support offer invaluable opportunities on par with the clinical care our patients receive. This fundraising achievement embodies philanthropy and promises enduring, meaningful impacts,” said Dr. Yatin M. Vyas, pediatrician-in-chief, chair and vice president of the Children’s Hospital.

Children’s Hospital facility dog Kaia, a golden retriever, was a guest of honor at the Feb. 27 event along with Ashley Kane, her primary handler and Child Life Program manager. In 2016, Spirit of Children funds helped bring Kaia to the Children’s Hospital, where she became the first full-time facility dog employed in a Pennsylvania children’s hospital. Kaia uses her professional training to provide specialized tasks and therapeutic services to help her pediatric patients. For example, Kaia can help calm children down during a test or demonstrate how to lay on the X-ray table.

The charitable foundation, whose reach extends to nearly 160 hospitals across the U.S., also hosts the annual Children’s Hospital Spirit of Children Halloween party. During the event, dozens of young patients and their families enjoy a Halloween celebration, pick out new costumes, play games and make crafts.

“The Spirit of Children Halloween party brings a smile to those facing medical hardships, offering a much-needed sense of joy and normalcy. As a proud sponsor of Child Life at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network has witnessed the many ways the program helps to heal,” said Katie Anderson, director of Children’s Miracle Network.

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