Mother, daughter team up to bring Christmas cheer to children in hospital

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Santa Claus will deliver gifts to children fighting cancer at Niswonger Children’s Hospital on Christmas Eve morning, and he welcomes the help of the community. Hoofprints for Hope, founded by a local teenage cancer survivor and her mother, will be collecting toys in Elizabethton and Johnson City until December 22, to be donated to children and delivered by Santa.
Children with cancer will be the first to receive toys, but founder Amber Vess said their goal is to give toys to each child in the hospital through the holidays. They are accepting monetary donations as well, and all proceeds and donations will go to the children.
Vess said the toy drive was her daughter’s idea, to help children get through lengthy chemotherapy treatments and to give them gifts to enjoy.
“It can be tough to be in the hospital over the holidays, and this will give them something to do,” said Vess. “Our goal is to bring smiles to the faces of children with cancer.”
Donations may be geared towards children and teens from birth to age 18. She said that ideas for gifts for older children are iTunes gift cards or other gift cards, because in long chemotherapy treatments, music and digital entertainment can help pass the time.
New toys may be donated at the following locations: Elizabethton City Hall, Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, Elizabethton Recreation Center on Mill Street, Sycamore Shoals Hospital’s east entrance to the human resources office, and at The Nest on South Roan Street in Johnson City.
Her daughter was diagnosed with cancer at age 10 in 2012, and since her recovery, Vess said, “She is the one who thought we needed to help the kids.”
They take their miniature horse Ebony to visit kids at various locations, which Vess said children find uplifting. The 26-inch horse can only visit outdoors currently, but is in the process of getting certified to go indoors as a therapy horse.
“When my daughter was sick, she couldn’t go outside, so being able to see animals helped bring that comfort indoors,” said Vess.
They hope that delivering toys will have a similar effect on kids fighting cancer through the holidays.

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