Photo by Emily N. Tanaka.
After holding a toy drive in the beginning of July, employees from Dignity Health Saint Mary’s Medical Center hand-delivered more than 250 donated toys to the Long Beach Police Department’s Special Victims Unit at its downtown headquarters Wednesday morning.
The toys will go to the children affected by violence or trauma as a way to comfort them during and after the investigation.
“When we have a victim of violence come in, obviously children are, at many times, directly or indirectly traumatized by it,” Sergeant Michael Solomita said. “And [the toys] go a long way in breaking down some barriers, developing a rapport and trying to make a really traumatic experience that much easier for them.”
Saint Mary’s, located a few blocks north from the headquarters, sees many patients who are victims of domestic crimes and involved with the LBPD Special Victims Unit.
After holding a separate Toy Drive for Saint Mary’s patients earlier this year, Sharon Sauser, manager of Respiratory Care, thought it would be a good idea to conduct a toy drive for the Special Victims Unit after they were unable to give the department any donations from the previous drive, said Dignity Health communications manager Megan Martinez.
What began as a small laundry basket of stuffed animals donated by Sauser became a huge display of over 250 toys, books and stuffed animals contributed and collected by about 7,500 Saint Mary’s employees, according to Martinez.
“We really hope families and children benefit from having a little something to hold on to,” said Martinez.