It was then that the local family decided they, too, wanted to start their own children’s hospital Christmas toy drive.
“It was a blessing for us because we never left her bedside and we had people who brought things in and were helpful to us,” Tatum’s mother Laura said.
On Friday evening, Laura, her husband Craig, a healthier Tatum and her sister Saylor arrived at Niswonger Children’s Hospital to continue their family tradition, “Tatum’s Totes,” for its sixth year, bringing dozens of tote bags full of toys and toothbrushes for the pediatric patients who have to stay in the hospital during the holiday season.
“We reached out to family and friends to help get this started,” Laura said, adding that it’s important to “remember those who are sick in the hospital” during Christmas.
Tatum was just 3 months old when she was first hospitalized at Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus, respiratory distress and pneumonia, which led to further complications. Several months later, Tatum was readmitted, this time at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, for respiratory distress and pneumonia.
But Tatum, now 6, said she’s happy to help continue the family tradition to help other pediatric patients feel Christmas cheer during their stays in the hospital. Laura said they hope to continue the tradition for years to come.
“I feel like it’s probably one of the most fun things we do as a family,” she said. “For me, it’s having the ability to give back.”