By Jessica Jones
The Hoover Fire Fighters Association, Hoover High School and Spain Park High School recently made a colorful contribution to Children’s of Alabama.
With the help of students in Hoover, the association made a donation of 12 hand-painted Radio Flyer wagons to help the young patients at the hospital.
“It’s been wonderful how our community has come together to donate the wagons the way that they have,” said Bonnie Bivins, volunteer coordinator for Children’s of Alabama.
Lee Kilgore, a medic with the Hoover Fire Department, said the donation is traditionally a collaborative effort with participants from the Hoover Fire Fighters Association. However, this year, students from Hoover and Spain Park high schools were enlisted to help paint the wagons, he said.
The Hoover Fire Fighters Association’s involvement with the project started a few years ago when the Hoover Arts Alliance needed a way to fund its donation, Kilgore said.
“The Hoover Arts Alliance called us about three years ago and asked if we could assist them by purchasing wagons that they were going to paint and donate to Children’s Hospital,” Kilgore said. “They needed the money and they didn’t have any way of raising money.”
Although the Hoover Arts Alliance participated in painting the wagons in the past, they were unable to assist this year. That’s when the Hoover students stepped up and answered the call to help.
“We decided to call Spain Park and Hoover High to see if their art departments would like to paint the wagons that we purchased this year,” Kilgore said. “They both jumped on board.”
Six of the wagons were purchased by the hospital’s Radio Flyer supplier in Northport, and the other six were purchased by the Fire Fighters Association.
The wagons are used to transport children too small for wheelchairs around the hospital.
Bivins said the wagons are immensely important for hospital use and the transportation of children because the wagons allow them to be transported comfortably and also allow for IV transport.
“The wagons are just unbelievably important to the families and to the children as well,” Bivins said. “They just get to get out and get away from the room and also they use it as a means of transport sometimes when they go to the performance center and there’s an event going on there.”
Wagons are also used during discharge for hauling luggage and gifts the patients receive during their stays, Bivins said.
The practicality of the wagons is important, but the paint jobs give them a little something extra, she said.
“They do different themes. That’s what’s so awesome about this donation, because they came up with so many themes and they were decorated absolutely beautifully,” she said.
With themes ranging from Winnie the Pooh to the Wizard of Oz and colorful images of cupcakes and ice cream cones, the children’s reactions to the different designs and colors are just as important as the function of the wagons, Bivins said.
“It’s so cool to see a little boy come up and pick out one that’s got a rocket ship and he can pretend he’s going to space in that little wagon,” she said. “That means a lot, because they’re excited to get in a wagon, and when it’s all decorated up, it just makes them feel so special,” Bivins said.
For more information on donating to Children’s of Alabama, visit foundation.childrensal.org.