By Jackie Sandquist
Since February 2012, Randall Children’s Hospital new building has been a part of our neighborhood. Each year, 100,000 children visit Randall Children’s Hospital, making it one of the busiest pediatric healthcare providers in the Northwest. This nine story healing center is filled with whimsical, fanciful touches, from larger than life wooden bird’s nest sculptures to outdoor gardens and animal clues in the elevator to indicate the floor.
One feature open to the public is a delightful shop called “Paige’s Gift Shop.” The gift shop is named for a survivor. At fifteen, Paige became very sick and went to Legacy Emanuel Hospital, received treatment, and became one of their many success stories. Paige is now a thriving young woman. The gift shop honors her experience at the hospital.
Paige’s Gift shop is run by volunteers who get to meet many of the kids staying at the hospital. A few months ago, a bald four-year-old walked into the gift shop with his mom and dad. The parents were obviously exhausted from the ordeal of their son’s recent health treatments. The child looked up at his mom and said, “Mom, this place is way funner.” The mom turned to the volunteer with tears in her eyes, and said “This is the first time he has smiled in five days.”
Thonna Vela is Manager of Volunteer Services and Paige’s Gift Shop. Thonna says, “Paige’s Gift Shop is a place for kids to come in and play, and it’s a safe zone.” When you walk in the shop you can feel the excitement of the children. The architects were asked to imagine children coming into the shop lying down in wagons with IV poles. “When kids are not feeling well, they need color and fun,” said Thonna. Her vision resulted in a space where the corners are rounded, the ceiling is flowered, the toys are colorful, and the focus is on making kids happy in this moment. It is a family friendly shop where volunteer staff doesn’t worry about something being broken. Kids belong in this shop.
Paige’s Gift Shop has something for everyone: books for $1.50, little scrubs and doctor’s kits, tutus in all shapes and sizes, and Wishpets, plush stuffed animals that are made by a local company. All of the volunteers are skilled at providing shopping assistance. They relish the challenge of that difficult-to-buy-for twelve-year-old nephew, the-nine-year-old-girl’s birthday party or the child who is receiving chemotherapy. They will find the perfect item for you. They place gifts in bags with colorful tissue paper if you ask. The shop hours vary, but is generally open between 10-2, Monday – Friday.
If you are interested in volunteering please contact Cynthia Manchester, the Volunteer Coordinator at 503-276-6950 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an application. Volunteer applicants must go through a criminal background check and a training on patient safety and patient privacy.