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Donation Guidelines for Toys and Other Items

We are grateful that you are interested in donating items for the patients and families at East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Items are always needed for children to use while they are hospitalized or while they are receiving treatment in the Scott M. Niswonger Emergency Department, Rehabilitation Center or the outpatient clinics. Items are also appreciated for gifts for patients on their birthdays, for special holidays, for off-therapy parties and for other celebrations and treatment milestones. The age range of our patients who will receive the gifts is birth to 21 years.


To deliver donations, please call the Volunteer Services Department at (865) 541-8136. Donations may be left at the Information Desk in the main lobby of the hospital or delivered to Volunteer Services located across the street from the main campus in Koppel Plaza. Please attach your name and address to your donation.



 What We Can Accept

  • New toys, books, and games (see list below of appropriate suggestions)
  • Craft kits and materials that are nontoxic
  • Used hard plastic toys that are in "like-new" condition (Fisher Price, Playschool, and Little Tykes)

 What We Cannot Accept 

  • Because we serve children of various faiths and beliefs, we cannot accept materials with a religious theme.
  • Used items such as fabric dolls, stuffed animals, cardboard games and puzzles cannot be accepted because of difficulty of cleaning and infection control issues.
  • Used toys that are not made of hard plastic.
  • Food and candy items are not permitted because many of our patients are on special diets. See below for information on food items that may be donated for patient families.
  • Rubber/latex balloons are not permitted because of the hazards of choking and latex allergies.
  • Toys with detachable parts such as button eyes are not appropriate, because they can be removed and swallowed or inhaled.

Suggested Items To Donate:


  • Busy boxes
  • Stacking toys and nesting cups
  • Plastic rattles and teethers
  • Push/pull toys and pop-up toys
  • Shape sorters
  • Crib activity centers
  • Telephones
  • Plastic books
  • Lullaby CDs and musical toys
  • Non-breakable infant mirrors
  • Hard plastic toys that can be washed  


  • Duplos/Legos
  • Games: Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land
  • Matchbox cars
  • Dinosaurs, farm animals
  • Baby dolls, clothes
  • Barbie dolls, clothes
  • Balls
  • Bubbles
  • Age-appropriate DVD movies (rated G)
  • Fisher Price Medical Play kit
  • Fisher Price people, house, farms, airport
  • Fisher Price CD players
  • Hard plastic toys that can be washed


  • Any items featuring "Dora the Explorer," "Finding Nemo" or "Sponge Bob"
  • Etch-A-Sketch or Magna Doodle
  • Age-appropriate DVD movies (rated G or PG)
  • Trucks by Tonka
  • Games: Sorry, Connect Four, Battleship, Monopoly Junior, Clue Junior, Guess Who?
  • Portable CD players with ear phones
  • Lincoln Logs and Legos
  • Coloring books and crayons
  • Sewing Cards
  • Hand-held electronic games
  • Children's magazine subscriptions
  • Craft kits


  • Gift cards (especially for sporting goods, electronics, movie theaters or video stores -- see below for a list of suggested stores)
  • Games: Playing cards, Uno cards, Monopoly, Simon, Trivial Pursuit (all versions), Chess, Checkers, Skip Bo, Phase Ten
  • Music CDs
  • Age-appropriate DVD movies (rated G, PG or PG-13 only)
  • Stationery and journals
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Manicure sets or bath/body sets
  • Digital or disposable film cameras
  • Pen and pencil sets
  • Craft kits
  • Nerf sports items (football, etc.)
  • White t-shirts for craft activities
  • Hair accessories, brushes, combs
  • Teen magazine subscriptions (Sports Illustrated, Teen, Seventeen, Teen People, Car & Driver, Justine)
  • iPod's or mp3 players and accessories (such as speakers and headphones)
  • New pajamas, colorful socks 



Gift Cards – Many of our patients and their families have specific needs or wants that can be most easily met with gift cards. These cards allow teens to have the fun of choosing their own gift on a special occasion. Gift cards can also be used to help families with limited incomes to meet specific material needs. And during the December holidays, gift cards help the hospital to provide a brighter season to needy patient families. Parents who receive the gift cards have an opportunity to buy a few items of their own choosing for their kids or for their household. Gift cards from the following retailers and businesses in any amounts starting at $5 are especially useful:  

  • Babies R Us
  • Discount retailers (Target and Walmart)
  • Electronics stores (Best Buy)
  • Family clothing stores (Kohl's)
  • Grocery stores (Kroger, Ingles, Food City, Publix)
  • Movie theaters (Regal and Carmike)
  • Restaurants (fast food and casual dining)
  • Simon Gift Cards (available at Knoxville Center and West Town Mall) or Visa gift cards (available at many financial institutions, drug stores and grocery stores) for use anywhere Visa cards are accepted
  • Sporting goods stores (Dick's Sporting Goods, Champs Sports, Gander Mountain and Hibbett Sports )
  • Toys R Us
  • Online retailers (iTunes, Amazon.com)  

Magazines – Donors can purchase subscriptions of new magazines for use in hospital waiting rooms or collect magazines that are 3 months old or less to bring to the hospital. No magazines that are religious in nature or deemed inappropriate for all age groups will be accepted. Magazine subscriptions ordered for the hospital should be addressed to: Volunteer Services Dept., Children's Hospital, P.O. Box 15010, Knoxville, TN 37901. Here is a list of appropriate magazine titles:  

  • Cooking publications (like Cooking Lite)
  • Entertainment Weekly
  • Family Circle
  • Good Housekeeping
  • Justine
  • Ladies Home Journal
  • Martha Stewart
  • More
  • O
  • Parents
  • People
  • Reader's Digest
  • Redbook
  • Self
  • Southern Living
  • Sports Illustrated
  • Sports Illustrated for Kids
  • Teen People
  • Woman's Day  

Scrapbooking supplies – In 2004, Children's Hospital began a scrapbook program for each baby who is admitted to the Haslam Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Children's Hospital patients at some of our summer camps also participate in scrapbooking projects.  Photo paper and color cartridges are always in need (HP photo paper 4x6, HP110 tri-color cartridge, Cannon photo paper 4x6, Cannon Selphy CP800 color cartridge).


Batteries – As children's toys increasingly go electronic, we use a larger number of batteries each year. Donations of batteries, especially sizes C and D, are great for keeping all our patients' toys and entertainment items in working order.


Clothing – The Children's Hospital Volunteers maintain a Clothing Closet to help our patient families with emergency clothing needs. Donations of items are accepted to the clothing closet year round. Items that are needed are new or previously worn knit pants and knit shirts, in all sizes from infants to adults. New socks and new underwear are also accepted in all sizes. The clothing closet does not accept jeans, coats, dresses or shoes. Travel-size personal toiletry items - shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes - are also needed. The clothes and toiletries are given to patients and parents who may have come to the hospital on short notice due to a child's sudden illness or injury and are lacking a change of clothes or personal hygiene items. If you would like information about joining the Children's Hospital Volunteers or would like to donate items to the clothing/hygiene closet, call the Volunteer Services and Resources Department at Children's Hospital at (865) 541-8136 or e-mail us.


Food for family kitchens – Each patient floor has a family kitchen or lounge where families can prepare simple meals and snacks, and donated food items can be provided to the families in these areas. Items such as individual canned fruit or applesauce (with a pop-top or peel-off top so no can opener is needed), bags of microwave popcorn, microwavable canned soups and pasta dishes, small individually wrapped snacks (such as pretzels, graham crackers, fruit snacks, cheese crackers, cookies, candy, etc.), breakfast and cereal bars, and individual servings of beverages (juice boxes and canned or bottled sodas, juices, iced tea, water and lemonade). Due to food safety guidelines, no homemade foods can be accepted, and all donated food items must be nonperishable commercially prepared and packaged/sealed in single servings.


Hospitality Cart – The Volunteer Services and Resources Department accepts donated items for the Family and Friends Hospitality Cart. All items are provided free to families.Items needed include pens, note pads, lip balm, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, magazines, puzzles, books, coloring books, toothbrushes, combs, hairbrushes and other similar items.