“Up on the housetop, Reindeer pause, Out jumps good old Santa Claus, Down thru the chimney with lots of toys, All for the little ones, and Christmas joys,” rings loud and clear at Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus.
This has been the case for the last five years thanks to a woman, her family, and her willingness to give back to those who are suffering while being cared for.
Patty Kennison lost her son, Tatum Alexander Breech, in January 2009 to a two year battle with cancer. The son of Kennison and Alvin Breech was diagnosed with a brain tumor in April 2007. He suffered and went through several surgeries, chemo therapy, and radiation treatments at the Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald house in Columbus.
Kennison said that during their time there, Christmas was very much celebrated and there was a toy cart that makes daily rounds for kids to pick an item. Losing Tate was very hard on the whole family, as anyone can imagine.
“We wanted to find a way to give back,” said Kennison. “So, we organized a toy drive in memory of Tate, with the name ‘Toys for Tate,’ because that rolled off the tongue so easily.”
Kennison continued, “We started in 2013 with a donation of 550 toys, and it has grown every year. Last year, we took 1565 toys to Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.”
In 2018, they had already collected 1,450 toys and it was only December 12, with the drive scheduled to run through the 15th. “We have collected and delivered over 5,000 toys since we started,” said Kennison.
The final total for 2018 was 1,771 toys delivered, a new high since Kennison and her family started their endeavor to give back five years ago.
Rather than sending the toys to the hospital via mail, Kennison and her family hand deliver the toys to those suffering every year.
“The ages we donate to are birth to 18 years of age. We do ask for all toys to be new, because they are being donated to the kids that are in the hospital. Almost every toy is okay to donate, however we do ask for stuffed animals to have tags and no food items.”
Tatum was four years old when he passed, and each year since the family has placed boxes at convenient stores, while some people bring the toys straight to her. If people wish to donate money to their charitable cause, Kennison takes any of that money and buys more toys.
In addition to Tatum’s memory living on through their toy efforts, Kennison’s daughter had a baby boy which she named Austin Alexander, in memory of Tatum Alexander. This was a big thing for her family, and yet another great reminder of the son they lost much too soon.
As for this special toy drive in Tate’s name, as difficult as it may be for the family, they take this grief and turn it into a wonderful Christmas venture so that other children and their families in the positions they used to be in can more happily enjoy the festive season.
Kennison wanted to thank everyone in the community for helping with this cause, because there is no way to send thank you cards to everyone who has helped and contributed.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928