ANN ARBOR – It was a festive and heartwarming scene on Monday afternoon when Ann Arbor Police Officers delivered toys donated by a child of their own to CS Mott Children’s Hospital.
Agent Shellie Mathis’ daughter, Harper, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor, in 2020. at Moth.
Harper Mathis poses with toys from her holiday toy campaign for patients at Mott Children’s Hospital on December 13, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)
“I decided to do it because I felt like I had to give something back to the hospital to help me with the great nurses and the great doctors,” Harper said. “I felt sorry for the children who cannot be comfortably at home with their families. Because of COVID, you are not allowed to let so many people come to your room.
“I was here for Thanksgiving last year and they gave me so many gifts, even just for Thanksgiving and it was such a sweet thing of them to do.”
Ann Arbor police officers help unload gifts for Harper’s Holiday Toy Drive at Mott Chidren’s Hospital on Dec. 13, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)
Police officers, some in Santa hats and Christmas-lit headbands, unloaded boxes of toys from a number of decorated police vehicles and a large trailer.
Luanne Thomas Ewald, COO of Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, said Harper’s Toy Drive will bring much-needed joy to children spending the holidays in the hospital.
“If we see our children and our former patients who are doing well and are home and back in their communities who want to give back to the children who will be sadly here during the holidays, that’s the best thing,” said Ewald. “It warms our hearts. These families and these children are gathering their communities.”
Mott Chidren’s Hospital COO Luanne Thomas Ewald and Harper Mathis pose with toys donated through Harper’s Holiday Toy Drive on Dec. 13, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)
Ewald said Harper’s Holiday Toy Drive came at the perfect time, as the hospital’s toy supply has taken a hit during the pandemic and restrictions on multiple patients using the hospital’s activity rooms have affected regular play schedules.
“With COVID, our toy supply is severely depleted,” she said. “Days like today make us so happy when we see all those police cars full of toys. We just know we’re going to have a very special holiday here at the hospital.”
Harper Mathis (center) poses with two of her former nurses at Mott Children’s Hospital on December 13, 2021. (Meredith Bruckner)
This isn’t the first time Harper has organized an event to give back. In June, she and Shellie helped raise money for the sale of lemonade on Main Street for childhood cancer research with the help of fellow AAPD agent Kabe Jenkins, whose young daughter Charlotte was also battling cancer.
Several AAPD vehicles were decorated for the event. (Meredith Bruckner)
Harper said she is grateful for the AAPD’s help in its efforts to bring brand new toys to pediatric patients for the holidays.
“It feels so great because it’s really nice to know that everyone wanted to do this and that they could all come together to do this,” Harper said. “It’s just great and we have a great department here.”
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