Putting Smiles on Sick Kids’ Dials
It’s that time of year again – Wardy is back to spread joy and help us all get in the festive spirit! Avid readers of The Beast already know all about the wonderful human that is Mal Ward. But for those of you who are not yet familiar, here’s a quick recap.
Mal’s nine year-old son Johnno lost a long battle with childhood liver disease back in August 2008. Faced with a tragedy that no parent should have to endure, he decided to turn his grief into something positive. Merely months after his beloved son’s untimely passing, he turned his first Christmas without Johnno into an opportunity to bring a little bit of cheer into the lives of sick children and their families. That year, with the help of the local community, he collected 160 Christmas presents and delivered them to sick children in Sydney’s kids hospitals. And he hasn’t stopped since.
This year will mark the twelfth year of the Forever Johnno annual present drive and the pile of presents has grown steadily every year. So far, this initiative has brought over 10,000 presents to the sick kids at the Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and a record 1,300 presents were delivered last year alone.
“The local support never ceases to amaze me, I know the nursing staff are very appreciative of the support and love being Santa to all the kids,” Mr Ward told The Beast.
“It’s a traumatic time for the whole family when their child is in hospital over Christmas and buying presents for everyone takes a back seat. Because of the local community’s wonderful support, we are able to provide presents for the entire family”.
If you’re keen to get involved in this year’s present drive, the official present drop-off and wrapping station will be waiting for you on Sunday, December 15 from 1.30pm to 4pm at the Coogee Bay Hotel.
If you’re strapped for time, you can drop your unwrapped gift (or gifts) at the event or wrap it yourself and drop it off. If you do the latter, just make sure you label it with the appropriate age group and gender (if applicable) on a small sticker. Alternatively, if you have all the time in the world but are really strapped for cash, why not join Wardy on the day and volunteer your present wrapping skills?
This is a wonderful, feel-good community event, so pop on down, bring the kids for some free face painting, gobble down a sausage sizzle and help wrap a present or two. However much or little you have to give, your efforts will be hugely appreciated by Wardy and the staff at Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Most importantly, you will be helping to make Christmas in hospital that little bit brighter and easier for countless children and their families.