BREMERTON — After months of hard work, eight-year-old Zachary Darner — with help from his parents, Beth and Rhandel, and a few family friends — delivered more than 1,500 toys to Harrison Medical Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital on Dec. 21, just in time for Christmas.
The toys were collected since early November from numerous places throughout Kitsap County, through the generous donations of organizations and individuals. The goal for Kidzz Helping Kidzz’s sophomore year was 1,000 toys, up from last year’s 50. Both years, they exceeded their goal; after collecting 259 toys last year, more than five times their goal, they upped the ante this year … and still surpassed it, with at least 1,589 toys.
Of those, 300 went to Harrison (the medical center requested only that many) and the rest were divided between Seattle Children’s and Mary Bridge.
Zachary said his goal next year is to collect 5,000 toys to donate to kids. Rhandel said they’ll need to rent something a little larger than the U-Haul they drove around on Dec. 21.
David Schultz, president of Harrison Medical Center, greeted the Darners at Harrison Bremerton and surprised Zachary with a heartfelt thank you letter.
“Your dedication and tireless effort to collect over 1,500 toys is a wonderful testament to the kindness and compassion in your heart,” Schultz read from the letter. “You are an amazing young man … and truly a gift to our community. [We give you] our heartfelt thanks for your generosity, which will brighten the days ahead of our young patients and their families. We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.”
Zachary began the Kidzz Helping Kidzz toy drive in 2016 after his younger brother, Noah, spent Christmas in the hospital. That experience inspired him to want to donate toys to children in hospitals over the winter holidays, in an effort to make them feel a little joy during their hospital stay.
For more information about Kidzz Helping Kidzz, visit www.facebook.com/kidzzhelpingkidzz, or go to KitsapDailyNews.com for previous coverage.
— Michelle Beahm is online editor for the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.