Duo to collect toys for hospitalized children

STEUBENVILLE — Retired Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper Ed Weigand and retired patrol dispatcher Diane Holubeck again are collecting toys that will be given this Christmas to patients at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Holubeck and Weigand have been collecting the toys at the patrol’s Steubenville and St. Clairsville posts for the past 15 years.

The deadline this year to drop off toys is Dec. 18 because of the sorting and wrapping hospital staff must complete prior to Christmas.

The couple last year collected about $16,000 in toys and cash donations. They load all the items in a small truck for the drive to Pittsburgh.

“It means everything to them,” Weigand said about the children receiving Christmas gifts. “A lot of the parents don’t have a lot, with medical bills and other kids to take care of. Our passion really runs deep for these kids who have gone through so much.”

Some of the items on the Children’s Hospital patients’ wish lists include musical books; stacking rings; sippy cups; baby dolls; age-appropriate soft plush toys; Barbie dolls; play tools; Legos; jigsaw puzzles; coloring, crossword or word search books; hand-held electronic games; fast-food gift certificates; snap-together model kits; CD players with speakers; wooden craft kits; craft supplies (paint, glue, markers and paper); and any age-appropriate board game.

Weigand said gift cards to toy and department stores and calling cards also can be donated and used as Christmas presents. He noted the children can use the calling cards to call relatives living out of the area. Hospital social workers will use gift cards to purchase toys as needed.

Residents can take the toys and gift cards to the St. Clairsville and Steubenville posts. The telephone number used by both posts is (740) 264-1641. The St. Clairsville post, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, also can be contacted at (740) 695-0915. The Steubenville post can be contacted at 740-264-9432 during daily business hours for information about arranging to make a donation of toys and gifts. The Steubenville Post is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The donated toys shouldn’t be wrapped so hospital staff can verify the age appropriateness of the toy, Weigand said. Also, the toys have to be new or in original packages because of sanitary concerns in the hospital, he said.