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Slayton 12-year-old donates 12 boxes of toys to Sanford Worthington Medical Center for hospitalized children

Dane's Donations to cheer up girls and boys.

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Accepting the Dane’s Donation boxes and presenting Dane Hanson with $200 to create more donation boxes are Sanford Worthington Medical Center staff Christine Bullerman (from left), Jena VerSteeg, Jennifer Weg, Kaitlin Bullerman, Dane Hanson, Kristin Olson, Dee Telkamp, Jessica Giese, Lorri Sandhurst and Alesha Andrade.
Ashley Riley / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — When Dane Hanson’s younger sister went for an ambulance ride to the Sanford Worthington Medical Center emergency department last year, he was quite worried about her and hoped she wasn’t scared.

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When he saw that she’d been given a Mickey Mouse stuffed toy to hold and cuddle on the ambulance ride — and to be a source of comfort to her during her hospital stay — he decided to do something to brighten the days for other little kids who found themselves in the hospital.

On Wednesday morning, the 12-year-old Slayton boy and his grandmother, Cindy Hanson, delivered 12 plastic boxes filled with a wide variety of toys to Sanford Worthington. It was the sixth such delivery he’s made in recent months to area hospitals. Other towns whose hospitals are receiving “Dane’s Donations” include Slayton, Marshall, Westbrook, Pipestone and Tracy.

“I just thought about getting stuff to give kids who are scared at hospitals,” Hanson said of his idea. “My mom put something on Facebook and I went around and told people about it and they donated.”

Hanson used the money he collected — including some bills and coins from his own piggy bank, earned by picking and selling eggs on their family farm — to purchase the plastic shoe-box-sized bins and everything inside, from markers and squish balls to puppets, flash cards, toy cars, slime, press-on nails and lip gloss.

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Six of the boxes contain toys and items appropriate for boys, and the other six are filled with things Hanson thought little girls might like.

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Dane Hanson, 12, of Slayton, talks about his favorite hobby — racing go-karts — with nurse Dee Telkamp Wednesday morning at Sanford Worthington Medical Center.
Ashley Riley / The Globe

Hanson’s efforts turned into a 4-H project, and now, the entire Shooting Stars 4-H Club has joined in the effort. The club will continue to replenish supplies for the Dane’s Donations boxes at each of the six hospitals going forward.

Hanson presented the boxes to the hospital with a request that children who are hospitalized be given the opportunity to select a toy from a box. The toys will last longer that way, he said.

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“What a great thing for him to do,” said Kaitlin Bullerman, Sanford Worthington’s manager of inpatient services. “It makes me so incredibly proud. As a parent, you hope that you instill that in your child — that there are kids out there that care.”

Bullerman said the toys will be given to children who come in through the emergency department, as well as those who are admitted to the hospital through the general medical unit.

“It will be positive for the healthcare of our kids,” added Kristin Olson, director of nursing and clinical services at Sanford Worthington Medical Center. “(These toys) will relieve anxiety and children can see coming to the hospital as a positive experience.”

While the hospital has received some donations in the past, they have primarily come through the Linus Project, which makes small tie blankets available to children.

When they heard that Hanson would be bringing in boxes filled with donated toys, Bullerman said they decided to turn the tables and donate back to Hanson.

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“During National Nursing Week, we try to sponsor an event for the nurses to give back to the community,” she said. “In the past we’ve done Sanford sacks full of jumpropes and sunscreen and donated those to Nobles County Community Services for foster kids, and the Worthington Police Department took some to hand out.

“This year, we thought, what a great opportunity when Dane reached out to us,” she added.

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At the end of the week, the donations totaled $200, and it wasn’t just nurses that donated to the cause.

“We asked for donations from anyone that works at the hospital,” Bullerman said. “I’m not surprised that we work with people who want to give back to the community — that’s something that’s instilled in all of us.”

Cindy Hanson said a couple of other hospitals also made donations to her grandson so that he can go out and buy more boxes and fill them with toys for hospitalized children.

“We would like to thank all of the nurses for the donation — it was very, very thoughtful,” she said.

“If you guys ever run out, just call me,” added Dane Hanson.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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