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Lisette as a patient at Children’s Mercy. (Lisette Tischner)

“I’ve known this place since I was a baby.”

Lisette Tischner was among many children who grew up as patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital. At just 12 weeks old, doctors diagnosed her with hydrocephalus, a condition where excess fluid builds up in the brain. Since that young age, Tischner has undergone over 25 surgeries to help treat this condition.

Today, Tischner works as a WayFinder Assistant at Children’s Mercy and provides comfort to families who worry about their kids as they undergo surgery.

“I just feel right at home in the position that I am in, doing what I do, comforting vulnerable families whose kids are going into surgery,” said Tischner.

While children and family are comforted by professionals like Tischner, UMKC students also get the opportunity to provide cheer and encouragement this holiday season.

This year, UMKC International Affairs is hosting a toy drive for young patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Donation bins are across campus at various locations, including the Atterbury Student Success Center and the Student Union. The bins will be available for students looking to donate their gifts until Wednesday, Dec. 8.

Programming Coordinator Stephanie Ho said she hopes the donations collected will bring joy to those kids.

“We hope to bring happiness and cheerful gifts to them,” Ho said. “We really want students to be involved in the toy drive to make the children’s experience during this holiday even better than compared to last year from COVID.”

However, there are some restrictions in place this year due to COVID concerns. One of these restrictions is that all donations made must be new and unused.

“This year, they restricted [donations] to newly bought,” Ho said. “From toys, clothing and everything, it all must be new instead of barely used.”

In previous years, toy drive volunteers would go to Children’s Mercy and deliver the gifts directly to the children. However, this year hospital staff will assume that responsibility for close-contact safety.

As a former patient, Tischner is thankful for UMKC’s toy drive and hopes it will bring relief to the young patients at Children’s Mercy.

“It just comforts me to know that the children who are receiving gifts, they get the same sense of comfort that I got when I was a patient and a sense of reassurance that everything’s going to be okay,” Tischner said. “It’s something to remind them that they’re not alone.”

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