Florida Poly bands together to spread joy to Lakeland pediatric patients

Group of Florida Poly employees in front of table with toys.
Florida Polytechnic University faculty and staff donated toys to Lakeland Regional Medical Center’s pediatric patients on Dec. 13 at the end of the fourth annual University holiday toy drive.

A table overflowing with toy robots, dragons, princess dolls, and building blocks took center stage inside the Wellness Center on Dec. 13 at the culmination of the fourth annual holiday toy drive benefitting pediatric patients at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.

“It gets better every year,” said Chief Richard Holland of the Florida Polytechnic University Police Department. “You’re giving something back and you know that child is going to have a smile on their face. Kids are why we celebrate the holidays and they have no choice in the matter to be in the hospital, so it’s nice that we can bring them some joy.”

University leadership was joined by faculty and staff to celebrate the successful toy drive with cocoa and cookies with Dr. Randy K. Avent, Florida Poly’s president, who led the toy drive effort alongside Holland. The group then made a jolly delivery to the hospital, which will distribute the toys in the coming days.

“Florida Poly’s caring and compassionate community is deeply invested in supporting Lakeland and really stepped up to brighten the day of children in the hospital this holiday season,” Avent said.

Michele Lightsey, assistant director with Chartwells, which operates dining services at Florida Poly, contributed four toys to the effort.

“This is for kids and kids all need to feel love. If they’re in the hospital, they especially need to feel that love,” Lightsey said. “I think this is great that the toys are staying local and it’s a good example to set for all the students here at Florida Poly.”

She and the entire dining staff made a special effort to support the toy drive and together contributed a large cart filled with toys.

“I am so proud of all of them,” said Jennifer Dignin, senior director of dining services. “When it comes to being generous, they are always over they top, and because they’ve benefitted from so many things in our community they love to give back.”

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