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“Best day ever”: Methodist Rehab donates stuffed animals to provide cuddly comfort for Children’s of Mississippi patients

Published on July 24, 2020
by Susan Christensen

After the closing of Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s gift shop, former manager Terri McKie, third from left, donated the store’s cuddly menagerie of stuffed animals to Children’s of Mississippi. University of Mississippi Medical Center staff on hand to accept the gift, are, from left, Kristin Kappler, director of children’s quality and clinical support services, Courtney Easterday, child life assistant, and Cara Williams, child life specialist

Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s gift shop may have closed, but the gifting continues.

Former gift shop manager Terri McKie recently donated nine bulging bags of stuffed animals from the store to Children’s of Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Located on the UMMC campus, Methodist Rehab is a next-door neighbor to Batson Children’s Hospital. So McKie said it was only fitting that Mississippi’s premier hospital for children be the chosen beneficiary of the shop’s cuddliest stock.

Kristin Kappler, director of children’s quality and clinical support services, said the gifts couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Because of COVID-19, our volunteer services have been suspended, as well as our play and activity rooms,” Kappler said.

So staff had already been talking about needing plush toys to provide comfort for children recovering from trauma or those who couldn’t sit up in bed for regular play.

As UMMC staff got a glimpse of what was in the gift bags, it was a Christmas in July moment, complete with appreciative squeals for the menagerie of monkeys, sheep, turtles, bears and other fluffy critters.

“These are going to be fabulous,” Kappler said. “Our kids will love these.”

For their youngest patients, UMMC staff members were particularly excited about a batch of WubbaNubs, a toy that pairs a plush toy with a pacifier.

“Little ones just want comfort items,” said Batson child life specialist Cara Williams. “This is so special.”

“This is the best day ever,” added Courtney Easterday, a Batson child life assistant.

Methodist Rehab is planning something new for the gift shop space. And while McKie will remain at the hospital in another position, the Batson donation gave her a nice way to say good-bye to a role she’s played since the gift shop opened in 1995.

“I’m very happy Batson is receiving these items because its patients, family and staff have been great supporters during the gift shop’s 25 years,” McKie said.