Students lead unique toy drive for local hospitals
The idea behind the “Stuff the Truck” toy drive, held in December by Aiken Technical College’s Student EMS Association and Christian Life Club, was to give back in a unique way.
This was the second time the drive has been held, the first being in 2019.
“This year, we decided it would be a great thing to start it back up as a community service project,” said Sidney Hobbs, president of the Student EMS Association. “Michele Tabler is a part of the Student EMS Association and is also the president of the Christian Life Club. Once we pitched the project to everyone in the EMS Association, she asked if the Christian Life Club could also help with it, and we were all on board.”
More than 250 toys and stuffed animals were collected during the drive. The toys were delivered to Aiken Regional Medical Centers, Children’s Hospital of Georgia, and Doctor’s Hospital.
“I think it is very unfortunate that the children have to spend their Christmas in the hospital away from family and friends, but knowing we were able to make their Christmas special warms my heart,” said Hobbs.
The delivery to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and Doctors Hospital was via an ambulance loaned by Gold Cross EMS with escorts provided by members of the Iron Medics EMS, Blue Iron Law Enforcement, and Red Knights (Firefighters) motorcycle clubs.
Community service opportunities such as this provide students, particularly in healthcare fields, a chance to “focus on positive aspects of human nature,” said Jonathan Jones, advisor for the Student EMS Association and EMS program director.
“One of the most stressful parts of EMS is dealing with sick and injured children, and sometimes it is very difficult to keep a positive attitude due to the mental health impacts these types of calls have on medical providers,” said Jones. “By doing this type of community service project, it gives the students an opportunity to do something positive that will help not only the child receiving the gift but the student as well in preparing themselves in a positive mental aspect to deal with the stress that they will soon face as providers. We teach our students that their mental health is one of the most important aspects they need to focus on, and being able to help those in unfortunate situations is a great way to build a positive mental attitude.”
The student organizations look forward to making the drive an annual activity.