Thank you to the JC and Jewish Weekly for featuring our article about our Toy Drive.

The first cohort of Camp Simcha’s new B’nei Mitzvah programme helped sort and pack over 10,000 toys collected by the charity for children spending the festive season in hospital. A team of 20 bar and bat mitzvah youngsters, along with their parents and other volunteers, sorted the new toys over the course of last week. All the gifts had been collected by schools, cheders, businesses, synagogues and community groups – or donated by individuals – for Camp Simcha’s annual Toy Drive.

The charity launched its B’nei Mitzvah programme this year to offer children a meaningful way to mark their simcha, by giving their time and being part of a group fundraising activity. Among them, Ariella Keene, 11, who is due to have her bat mitzvah in March, said: “It was such an honour to help pack toys with Camp Simcha to mark my bat mitzvah. I feel very sad that there are children who have to stay in hospital over the holidays and it’s so nice that I get to do something help them.”
This past week, the sorted toys have been distributed by Camp Simcha volunteers to 120 hospital wards and hospices and through community nursing teams around London, Essex and Hertfordshire, including the Royal Free NHS Trust, Northwick Park, Great Ormond Street, UCLH, St Mary’s, Evelina, Chelsea and Westminster and North Middlesex.

Gail Manning from the play team at Northwick Park Hospital’s paediatric ward, Jack’s Place, said the toy deliveries had been more important than ever this year.
“This year has been challenging for everyone. Here on Jack’s Place, we have had to adapt the way we play. Single use toys and activities have become essential. We have required many more resources in order to support our patients and families.
“The donation we received today will enable us to ensure all our patients have a treat over the festive period and I’m sure we’ll receive lots of smiles in return. We can’t thank Camp Simcha and the community enough for your kindness.”

Great Ormond Street Hospital also received their annual bags of toys – as well as a sweet treat for staff with a doughnut delivery from Camp Simcha – and some Chanukah activities and online entertainment for children on the wards.
GOSH asked for the charity’s help in this area to support the hospital chaplaincy’s cultural awareness activities.

Camp Simcha Head of Services Daniel Gillis said: “Chanukah is all about light – and we hope the doughnuts brightened up the day for the amazing staff team, and the crafts and entertainment brought some joy to children on the wards.
“Chanukah is a really special festival for Jewish children and for families as a whole. Raising awareness of this aspect of Jewish culture among staff and ensuring there are Chanukah activities for children on the wards, plays a big role towards bringing some joy to Jewish patients who might feel sad that they are missing their usual family festivities.”