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Bringing the Spirit to Children

Since 2008, Spirit of Children has raised $449,447 to support Child Life at CHoR, including $73,328 from the 2017 fundraiser

Every October, armed with costumes, crafts, pumpkins and all things Halloween, employees from Spirit Halloween stores bring the holiday to local children’s hospitals by hosting parties for patients. At Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR), “it’s the biggest, most well-attended party of the year,” said Heather Rossi, CCLS Sr., CPST. “Richmond loves Halloween.”

Beyond the annual parties, the company’s more than 1,100 stores collect donations through the Spirit of Children program to support Child Life programs at 140 children’s hospitals in the United States and Canada. Since 2008, Spirit of Children has raised $449,447 to support Child Life at CHoR, including $73,328 from the 2017 fundraiser. Locally, funds have been used to purchase supplies, games, toys and electronics; support staff professional development and most recently, to fund salaries for new Child Life positions in CHoR’s Emergency Department and Allergy & Infusion Clinics.

“Child Life works to normalize the hospital environment for kids,” said Heather. “We have playrooms, crafts and video games because kids cope best when they can be kids.”
Child Life specialists are part of the health care team and as such, are able to reassure and advocate for patients and families. They also work to minimize stress for children and families by getting to know them, preparing them for medical procedures and spending time with them while they are at the hospital. Since the new Child Life specialists were hired last spring, feedback from patients and families has been overwhelmingly positive.


“Spirit of Children is remarkable,” said Heather, who credits store managers with the program’s success. “Customers don’t know to give unless someone asks them. The funds allow us to meet needs as they come up whether that means stocking a playroom, providing books to a family dealing with the loss of a child, purchasing teaching supplies to help a child feel more comfortable with a medical procedure or supporting our staff.”