Family of cancer survivor gives back with New Haven hospital toy drive

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A charity that gives toys to sick kids at Yale Children’s Hospital just got a big boost in the form of hundreds of new toys. It is a former patient who is leading the way.

Owen Bernheim is delivering toys now, as a healthy 11-year-old, but when he was just a baby, he had a brain tumor. That meant coming to Yale Children’s Hospital a lot, with follow up tests for years.

“Every time I got an MRI, I got to pick out a toy from the Toy Closet,” Owen said. “It made me happy to have something to look forward to.”

That is what the Toy Closet is all about. Every little kid gets to chose a toy once they’re done with whatever they came in for.

“Our idea is that this helps a child go home from the hospital, or from an outpatient facility, with a smile,” explained longtime Toy Closet volunteer Maureen Herbert.

When Owen got a little older, he and his family decided they wanted to help make some of those smiles.

“I figured that, if I was looking forward to getting a toy from the toy closet, then other kids who weren’t as fortunate and were in the hospital, would want to receive toys, too,” said Owen.

So he and his family create an online registry every year, and ask people to buy a toy and donate it.

“It’s our sixth year, and this year I think we’re almost at a record high for about 640 toys collected,” said Owen’s mother, Jennifer Bernheim.

Yes, 640 toys this year, thanks to the Bernheims and their donors, and Owen has learned the only thing better than getting toys is giving them.

“It makes me feel really happy to be able to give back to the kids who are in need of a toy to make them happy,” Owen said.

Full disclosure: The Toy Closet was founded by News8 anchor Ann Nyberg. If you want to know more about it, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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