Wittenberg student goes shopping for toys to comfort kids at hospital


A 19-year-old Wittenberg student gave back to a Columbus hospital that helped her through a difficult time in her life.

Leah Bennett, 19, spent Friday shopping for hundreds of dollars of toys at Big Lots in Springfield as a patient champion for Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. She was one of seven chosen from around the U.S. to take part in a shopping spree to provide toys and other items to comfort children currently receiving treatment at the hospital.

READ MORE: Urbana firm to add 20-plus jobs as part of $2.7M expansion

“They’ve been there for me for a long, long time,” Bennett said of Nationwide. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them so I’m here trying to give back.”

Bennett was treated at the hospital as a teenager after facing mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. But she said the treatment she received from Nationwide’s Behavioral Health Services helped her cope and she is now enrolled at Wittenberg on a music scholarship.

MORE: Springfield Guard unit providing communications after hurricanes

While she was a teenager when she received treatment, she said spending time in a hospital can be frightening. The toys will give children a brief respite and some comfort, she said.

“It’s important for kids to know we’re out there thinking about them,” Bennett said.

The hospital in Columbus serves more than 600 patients daily, and Bennett was picked as a patient champion both because of her story and her interest in helping other children in a similar situation, said Niki Shafer, senior vice president of outreach at Nationwide hospital in Columbus.

DETAILS: FEMA awards grant to Springfield firefighters

“Leah has a history with our behavioral health program and Big Lots recently made a $50 million gift to expand our behavioral health program and it’s just a natural fit for them both,” Shafer said.

Big Lots, based in Columbus, donated the toys Bennett picked out Friday and is now in its third year raising money to support the hospital, said David Campisi, CEO of Big Lots. The company has raised millions since 2015 to provide support for the facility because of its mission, he said.

“It’s a very important cause, something people in Ohio should be very proud to have and one of the best children’s facilities in the U.S., if not the world,” he said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Fight to lead Ohio House leads to accusations of threats, bullying
Fight to lead Ohio House leads to accusations of threats, bullying

The battle to pick an interim speaker of the Ohio House took a bizarre turn Wednesday as accusations were made about threats, bullying and extortion. State Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, who is vying to be speaker for the remainder of the two-year session and the next session starting in January, held an extraordinary press conference outside the House...
Maker of Sweethearts candy message hearts, Necco Wafers sold for $18.83 million
Maker of Sweethearts candy message hearts, Necco Wafers sold for $18.83 million

The bankrupt maker of Necco Wafers, Sweethearts conversation hearts and other beloved American candies has a new owner. >> Read more trending news  The Ohio-based Spangler Candy Co. offered the winning bid of $18.83 million for the iconic New England Confectionery Co., the country’s oldest continuously operating candy company...
40,000 pounds of chicken feathers blocks freeway in Washington
40,000 pounds of chicken feathers blocks freeway in Washington

Drowsy driving may have caused the driver of a semitrailer to hit a guardrail and roll his truck, dumping 40,000 pounds of chicken feathers onto Interstate 5 in Federal Way, Washington and causing a backup that stretched for miles. The crash happened on northbound I-5 around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.  Initially, four lanes were closed by the crash...
Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city
Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

The city of West Hollywood, California, proclaimed May 23 Stormy Daniels Day and is honoring the adult film star with a key to the city. >> Read more trending news  The city said in a Twitter announcement that it’s honoring Daniels for her leadership in the #Resist movement. “In these politically tumultuous times, Daniels has...
FDA warns some teething medicines are unsafe for babies
FDA warns some teething medicines are unsafe for babies

Federal health officials are warning parents to stop using over-the-counter teething products that contain the drug benzocaine, because it can cause rare but deadly side effects in children, especially those under two years old. >> Read more trending news  The FDA also sent letters to drug manufacturers Wednesday, asking...
More Stories