Wisconsin News

Holmen girls help hospitalized kids find joy

HOLMEN, Wis. - It's a case of kids helping kids.

What started out as a small idea between three girls in Holmen is turning out to have a big impact.

When Sacia Gilbertson first told her Evergreen Elementary teacher Laura Sandness what she and her friends wanted to do for their class project, Sandness was stunned.

"What I thought originally was, 'Wow, that's a great project and I have no idea how we're going to do this,'" said Sandness.

Sacia and her friends Devin Reeves and Brynn Daines created a website called KidzKare.

"It's because we're kids and we care for other kids," said Brynn.

They're caring for kids who are facing very grown-up challenges.


KidzKare is a collaboration with the Children's Miracle Network. People can donate toys or money to buy toys for kids who are hospitalized with serious illnesses.

"It probably means the world to those kids to have the feeling that someone cares," said Devin.

The toys will go to play areas like the one in the Pediatric Oncology Ward at Gundersen Lutheran.

It might look like it's well-stocked with toys, but child life specialist Jenny Noel says there's a huge need, because the toys are sanitized with heavy-duty cleaners between each patient, which wears the toys out quickly.

Plus certain toys, like stuffed animals and board games, just can't be sanitized.

"Sometimes we need to send toys home because we cannot clean them. But we also like to send toys home with kids because it's a nice incentive when they have difficult tests or procedures done or they have a hospital stay," said Noel.

Sacia said it's inspiring to know that what started out as just an elementary school project can have a real impact on other kids' lives.

"You can never really believe that you're going to make a huge change. But I guess this has really made me realize that you don't have to be older to be able to make a difference," said Sacia.

Now their hard work is being recognized in called iECHO, a magazine that shows off the creativity of kids in the La Crosse area. On Thursday morning, those three girls will get their first look at the issue that's going to feature their project.

A representative from the magazine is going to visit Evergreen Elementary to have the girls open the first box of this month's issue.

You can find a wish list of toys and find out how to donate to KidzKare on their website.

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