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OHS Student Hosting Toy Drive for Hospitalized Children

Nov 27, 2016 03:57PM ● Published by Shannon Antinori

Marilee Garrett (right), 16, is collecting toys for patients at Advocate Lutheran General. (Photos courtesy of Shawna Garrett)

Marilee Garrett of Oswego knows what it’s like to spend Christmas and birthdays in the hospital.

As a way of giving back, the 16-year-old leukemia survivor has used her own money – earned through good grades, her allowance and birthday gifts – to purchase toys to brighten the spirits of young patients at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, where she received her treatment as a younger child.

This year, Marilee is looking to make the toy drive better than ever, and is asking Oswego residents to help out. Now through Dec. 20, Marilee will have a donation jar at the Oswego Culver’s restaurant, 2781 Route 34.

The teen will also collect toys from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Culver’s.

“It’s nice to give back to people who are in the same place I was,” said Marilee, who was diagnosed at just 2-1/2.

So far, the Oswego High School junior has purchased around 75 toys and books to be distributed year-round to patients. This year, Marilee said she wanted to make the toy drive even bigger.

“I just got a job in August, so I’ve been earning more money and have been able to buy more toys than in the past,” she said.

She said she hopes the donation jars and Dec. 10 toy drive will help her reach her goal of providing 150 toys.

“Every year, I have to go back for a checkup, so I bring the toys then,” Marilee said.

The toys should be new and unwrapped, and the hospital cannot accept stuffed animals, she said. Items like craft supplies, coloring books, Play Doh and books are especially appreciated, according to Marilee.

Though she completed her treatment in 2005, Marilee said her leukemia battle has inspired her to pursue a career as an oncology nurse. It also made her want to reach out to patients the way many people reached out to her when she was at Lutheran General.

“It makes me feel good to be able to put a smile on their faces when they’re going through hard times,” Marilee said.


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