GREENSBURG – Hank Bicknell sat next to a hospital bed covered in plush toys of every sort Thursday afternoon at Decatur County Memorial Hospital.
Surrounded by hospital staff and friends and fellow members of the VFW as well as the VFW’s Ladies Auxiliary, Hank held a portrait of his late wife, Dot, as he and the others in the group posed for a picture that might never have taken place had it not been for Dot’s love of others.
“She was a wonderful lady,” Hank said of his wife, who passed away in 2000. “She loved to volunteer … She was the best.”
Since Dot’s passing, her friends in the Ladies’ Auxiliary have done their best to carry on her legacy.
It’s a memory that is reflected in the smile of every child entering DCMH for outpatient surgery. When that young patient is greeted by a plush animal friend, it’s tantamount to Dot having placed it there herself.
She would have wanted it this way.
Ladies’ Auxiliary Junior Vice President Thelma Meece, who has taken up the mantle of Dot’s toy donations following the passing of her predecessor, said approximately 70 plush toys were donated this year.
The group purchases toys for the program instead of having a customary Christmas gift exchange each year. Dot’s name has continued to be associated with the program more than a decade after her death as a testament to her commitment to making hospital visits at least a little more pleasant for some of Decatur County’s youngest patients.
“Dot always thought this was a good idea,” Thelma Meece said. “No one enjoys going to the hospital, anyway.”
Those sentiments were echoed by hospital staff quite familiar with such situations.
“It really brightens up their day,” said Operating Room Assistant Tammy Maloney. “Sometimes they’re really scared.”
The annual toy donation is a joint effort by members of VFW Post 5584 and the Ladies’ Auxiliary. Members purchase the toys brand new for children ages 12 and under, and donate them to DCMH. The program, despite its similarities in name to the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas toy drive, is not related to or associated with Toys for Tots.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056; firstname.lastname@example.org