Christmas in July benefits young patients

Playtime has a purpose for Victor Habene. Painting helps in the 7-year-old's recovery at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.

"It makes the hospital a little bit more fun," Victor said.

Art therapist Joseph Scarce helps hundreds of patients a year. Paint, brushes, and toys are used up as quickly as they come in and are expensive to re-stock. But when Christmas comes in July every year, the community's outpouring of support is amazing.

"We're very appreciate for all the things we get from that program," Joe said.

New toys and monetary gifts make a big difference.

"Anything that can be donated to help with our art supplies and our toys that we distribute to our families is really helpful." Joseph added.

It’s a huge boost for kids like Victor. 

"When they paint something or draw or sculpt," Joseph said, “it's a great stress reliever for them. It encourages them to process any emotions that maybe going on before a procedure."

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital will be collecting toy donations for Christmas in July on Friday, July 28 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.  You can drop off donations in the circular drive in front of the hospital, located at 3001 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Tampa.