The community is a wonderful source of support for UM's Child Life Program. While sometimes community visitors come to the hospital to cheer the children, there are so many more ways to contribute. 

If you or your service organization would like to make a difference for our children, try one of these service project ideas.

Things to Collect

  • Crayons and Markers – Kids in the hospital use a lot of art supplies! In addition to crayons and markers, we could always use more colored pencils, glue sticks, Model Magic compound, kids scissors and construction paper. All supplies must be new for infection control reasons. See our toy safety guidelines for details.
  • Coloring Books – We use coloring books every day in all areas where we take care of kids.
  • Toys – Browse our wish lists for appropriate and popular items for all ages. Collect toys for all ages or "adopt" a specific age group. Items for infants and teens are needed most.
  • Birthday decorations – With the donations from our wish lists, we provide gifts to children in the hospital on their birthday. Decorations take the celebration to another level, and we could use items including colored streamers, “Happy Birthday” banners, unfilled Mylar (no latex) balloons, birthday-themed gift bags, colored tissue paper and birthday cards for different ages.
  • Pillowcases – Colorful, kid-friendly pillowcases make a hospital room seem homier. Oftentimes, we can let children pick their own pillowcase so it’s even more personable. Pillowcases also double as bags for carrying stuff home.
  • Character Band-Aids – Kids love fun character Band-Aids! Always popular character favorites are Batman, Superman, Star Wars and Disney Princesses, but whatever is the hottest movie of the day is appreciated. Latex-free Band-Aids are strongly preferred.
  • Magazines – Do you have a magazine subscription that you don’t know what to do with once you’ve read it? Or would you be willing to provide a new subscription? Magazines are a wonderful diversion for children, teens and families in the hospital. We accept new and good condition magazines (less than 6 months old) that are child appropriate. We recommend Cricket, Jack & Jill, Family Fun, Highlights, American Girl, Sports Illustrated Kids, Teen Vogue and National Geographic Kids.

Things to Make 

  • Build a Blanket – There’s nothing like a soft, colorful blanket to make a hospital bed feel a little more like home. The fleece, tied blankets tend to be the most popular because they are so comfy. You can make them or assemble the pieces into kits for kids to make. We need all sizes but teen-size the most.
  • Parent Care Kits – When children are admitted unexpectedly, parents may not have a chance to prepare for a hospital stay. A “care kit” lets parents know someone is thinking of them. Based on feedback from parents, we recommend kits contain some or all of the following: notepad, pen, packaged snacks (granola bars, crackers, trail mix, pretzels), puzzle book, tissues, toothpaste, toothbrush, lip balm, travel-size lotion, shampoo/conditioner and gift cards to area eateries (Subway, Au Bon Pain, McDonald’s, Panera and Potbelly).
  • Prepackaged Craft Kits – Crafts are one of the most requested activities when children are in the hospital. These craft kits can be used in our activity rooms or by children at their child bedside. Check out Ideas for Activities and Crafts for some suggestions.
  • Medical Play Dolls – These simple, handmade dolls are a tool our child life specialists use to help children process what's going on. We prefer to have a variety of natural skin tones. Learn to make medical play dolls.

Things to Do 

  • Adopt a Meal – Provide a breakfast, lunch or dinner for families of children in the Pediatric and the Pediatric Intensive Care Units. Meal expenses can add up quickly for families of children in the hospital. A meal provided in our parent lounge allows parents to stay close to their child while still getting a nourishing bite to eat. For infection control reasons, all food must be store-bought or catered.
  • Host a Benefit – Your group could run a car wash to benefit the Child Life Program. Or you could run a lemonade stand over the summer and use the proceeds to purchase toys or arts and crafts for kids to play within the hospital.

If you have questions or additional ideas, please contact the University of Maryland Children's Hospital Child Life Program at 410-328-7440.