“I also wanted the other children to have more options”

Jameson Shanabrough is no stranger to hospitals.

At the age of 2, Jameson was hospitalized after a dog attack. And again, in 2019, Jameson was a frequent guest at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital to visit his sick cousin.

While hospitals can undoubtedly be a scary and lonely place for children, 11-year-old Jameson remembers one thing: toys.

“I remember there was a cart going by, and the nurse would let us pick out different toys that we wanted,” Jameson said, recalling his hospitalization. “It just lifted our spirits.”

As the toys helped him cope with the incident, Jameson now hopes to help other children regain their strength while in hospital. Every year on his birthday, he organizes a toy drive and donates thousands of toys to a local children’s medical hospital.

This year, Jameson is donating toys to Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Mechanicsville. Last year, he donated more than 4,000 toys to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.

His father, Chris, remembers being shocked when his 7-year-old son wanted to donate toys to celebrate his birthday.

“He told us, ‘I want to give donations instead of birthday presents,'” Chris Shanabrough said. “The gesture was a little shocking for a child.”

Jameson Shanabrough, 11, of Spring Garden Township, poses with a shipment of toys he donated to Penn State Children's Hospital in 2019. Each year on his birthday, Jameson selects a children's hospital to donate a Don.  Photo courtesy of Nikke Shanabrough.

Jameson, along with his parents Chris and Nikke, operates multiple gift registries through Amazon and Target. Since all donations to hospitals must be new and unopened, the registry method was ideal for those wishing to donate to Jameson’s cause.

Those interested can catch up on the mission or learn more about donations by visiting the “Jameson’s Wish” Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jamesonswish/. Links to individual gift registries can be found here.

All toys purchased through the registry links will be shipped to Jameson’s home in Spring Garden Township. Monetary donations will be used to purchase additional toys and craft supplies.

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This year’s toy drive will end on July 31 with delivery in August.

Toys are crucial for the children remaining in the hospital, according to Jameson. Amid testing and treatment, a little gift or toy can make all the difference.

Jameson and his cousin often enjoyed bingo and other games, with staff members at Penn State Children’s Hospital hosting these events. With nurses calling bingo numbers aloud over the intercom, children in the hospital were given toys and other prizes.

Jameson Shanabrough, 11, of Spring Garden Township, poses with a shipment of toys.  Every year on his birthday, Jameson selects a children's hospital to donate to.  Photo courtesy of Nikke Shanabrough.

“They were really fun because I got to play when I visited my cousin,” Jameson said. “I just knew a lot of other kids could have fun with it too. And I also wanted other kids to have more toy options and more fun.”

Since beginning its toy drive in 2019, Jameson has donated more than 6,000 toys to three different children’s hospitals. The first year Jameson started fundraising, he collected items for the York SPCA.

“I’m grateful that he’s so willing to give back and think of others,” Chris Shanabrough said. “We live in very uncertain times and to have kids so determined to do this every year and look forward and look forward to a potential new hospital and new goals is reassuring.”

— Contact Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.