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Child life

Donate to child life

Child life: Supporting children and families

The experience in a hospital can be scary for kids, their siblings and families. Our child life team helps patients and families adjust to and cope with the hospital or clinical setting, illness or injury and the treatments involved.  

Donating to child life

While our medical teams continue to provide life-changing care for children and families – our child life and recreation therapy teams continue to make the hospital as normal, comfortable and fun as possible. Like many children’s hospitals across the country, we are updating our policies to protect our most vulnerable patients and making significant changes to how we are able to accept donations. 

We are not currently accepting donations in-person. 

If you would like to continue your support for child life, gifts can be made in the following ways.

  • Online
  • Mail checks – note child life in the memo
    Children’s Hospital Foundation
    2924 Brook Road
    Richmond, VA 23220
  • Mail gift cards 
    Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU
    Child Life department
    Box 980202
    403 N. 13th Street
    Main 7-334
    Richmond VA 23298
  • Online shopping: If donating funds or gift cards doesn’t feel right to you, shopping online and shipping to us is a great option! Please visit our Amazon wish list for an idea of the types of items we need. Feel free to purchase from anywhere and have the items shipped directly to us at:

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU
Child Life department
403 N. 13th Street
Main 7-334
Richmond VA 23298

Accepted donations include brand new toys, clothing, stuffed animals, books and handmade blankets. 

Commonly donated items that we do not have a significant need for at this time include Barbies, Candyland and Chutes & Ladders.

Donations we cannot accept include ride-on toys (including bikes/scooters) for any age, religious items, holiday-themed items, toy weapons (including nerf guns), used items, collectibles of any kind, large shared items (i.e, doll houses), R rated movies.

How our child life team helps support families:

  • Bridges the gap between home and hospital
  • Develops supportive relationships with children and families
  • Helps children and families cope with health care experiences
  • Increases familiarity with health care surroundings
  • Prepares children and families for medical experiences (surgery, blood draws, imaging, etc.)
  • Provides age-appropriate activities
  • Works closely with families and the health care team to minimize stress
  • Advocates for non-medical pain management strategies when appropriate 

When to request a child life specialist

Child life can be called upon at any point during your experience at CHoR. Support can be particularly helpful for:

  • Difficulty coping with a procedure
  • Difficulty taking medication
  • Injuries resulting from a traumatic accident
  • New diagnosis
  • Preparation for a stressful experience (IV, x-ray, MRI, blood draw, etc.)
  • Sibling support

Our team of 10 certified child life specialists provides coverage throughout the hospital, including: 

What kind of support does our child life team give?

We provide developmental, educational, social and emotional support to children of all ages.

  • Medical preparation and pre-surgical teaching: We help prepare kids of all ages for medical tests, procedures, surgeries and imaging studies. By giving the right amount of information that is based on the child’s developmental level and situation, a child’s fears of their upcoming experience can be decreased. These services also can help parents become more familiar with hospital procedures.
  • Support during procedures: Child life specialists can help reduce pain and anxiety during medical procedures by using techniques such as alternative focus and relaxation exercises. We also provide guidance to parents on how they can support their child during procedures. 
  • Therapeutic play activities: Therapeutic play activities help with decreasing pain, meeting treatment goals, learning new skills and shortening recovery time. They can occur at your child’s bedside, in the playroom or children’s garden. 
  • Support for siblings: We understand that brothers and sisters are affected by illness, injury and hospitalization too. They may need help understanding what is happening and how to work through their feelings and concerns about their sibling. We help siblings by answering questions, providing appropriate explanations of what is happening with the ill/injured sibling and clarifying misconceptions. Siblings are welcome in our playrooms and the children’s garden. 
  • Parent education and support: We will provide you with emotional support and information to help your child cope with what is happening. Understanding how children at different developmental levels may see their experiences can help parents choose how to best support their child. 
  • Grief support: We’re here for families at all stages of the health care journey. We can help with grief support and tailor our guidance based on a sibling’s age and your needs. 
  • Holiday and birthday celebrations: Being in the hospital during a birthday or holiday can be extra challenging. We’ll be sure to help recognize and celebrate these special moments.
  • Special events and visitors: We are lucky to have generous community support through special events and visitors (Rodney the Ram, sports teams, musicians, etc.). Child life specialists escort these special visitors and make sure your child is up for a visit before entering your room. 
  • Play with a purpose: Child life manages multiple play areas, including two age-specific playrooms and an outdoor children’s garden. 
  • Pain management: Our pediatric team will work to make sure your child is getting the best, most effective pain medicine for their needs, while we also offer a variety of non-pharmaceutical techniques to help reduce your child's pain at the hospital and at home.

Meet our child life team

Our Certified Child Life Specialists have the education and expertise to help families in a variety of health care settings.

Allyson Fiery, MS, CCLS
Allyson Fiery, MS, CCLS
Meredith Burns, MS, CCLS
Meredith Burns, MS, CCLS
Paige Lockamon, MS, CCLS
Paige Lockamon, MS, CCLS
Maddie Carroll, MS, CCLS
Maddie Carroll, MS, CCLS
Schoni Marchio BS, CCLS
Schoni Marchio BS, CCLS
Molly Norris MS, CCLS
Molly Norris MS, CCLS
Siri Garrett, MS, CCLS
Siri Garrett, MS, CCLS
Heather Rossi BS, CCLS
Heather Rossi BS, CCLS