It’s the oldest and most loved Le Bonheur tradition – selecting a special toy on the way to surgery. The Le Bonheur Club, the group of women who raised the money to build the hospital in 1952, wanted to ease children’s fears about surgery.
The volunteers were already sewing clothes, so they expanded their efforts to provide bunnies and other stuffed animals for children. The stop on the way to surgery was called the Bunny Room – now Bunny Lane. As the hospital has grown in 67 years, this tradition has remained.
Today more than 14,000 children travel through Bunny Lane each year on their way to one of Le Bonheur’s 17 operating rooms. Each child selects a toy that will be with them when they wake up from surgery. Bunny Lane is a key part of the hospital’s family-centered care focus says Timothy Head, DO, medical director of pediatric anesthesiology.
Payton Avery looks forward to picking out a toy from Bunny Lane on surgery day. Each toy she has picked has become a treasure —and a badge of her bravery.
“It sets a positive tone for the operating room experience. The child can focus their energy on a toy as opposed to their upcoming surgery. Each child and their family is then visited by the Child Life team and given a preview of a mask (or IV) induction of anesthesia,” Head said.
The Le Bonheur Club receives new toys from drives organized by schools, churches and businesses. Financial contributions also allow the Club to purchase large quantities of toys at a discount. Last year, Le Bonheur Club spent $100,000 to purchase toys for Bunny Lane. The members of the Club volunteer twice a week to replenish the shelves.
The Bunny Room was a brilliant thought on the part of the Le Bonheur ladies. It did a whole lot to ease children. They got to pick out a toy and carry it along with them. When they came to in the recovery room they had their toy there. It did a lot to help kids.
“When the children go through Bunny Lane, there is a moment before surgery and before they leave their parents arms when they get to focus on the rows and rows of toys,” 2018-19 Le Bonheur Club President Janie Roberts Owens said. “We’ve even created a special basket of toys for siblings.”
This year, Le Bonheur Club will give away more than 14,000 toys in Bunny Lane. They need your help.
You can donate online at lebonheurclub.org or organize a toy drive. All donations must be new, in original packaging and not gift-wrapped. Please avoid items with small pieces. We are in continual need of items for all ages, genders and cultures.
Some of our most urgent needs:
Contact Le Bonheur Club at 901-682-9905 to arrange for delivery or pick-up for large donations.
Le Bonheur Children's Hospital depends on the generosity of friends like you to help us serve 250,000 children each year, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Every gift helps us improve the lives of children.Donate Now