Healthy Choices

Arden Park couple turn holiday display into toy drive

Redwood trees decked with lights draw visitors to the Carollo house this month. The family collects toys to donate to the Sutter Children’s Center, where their daughter Rosie was treated before she died in 2004.
Redwood trees decked with lights draw visitors to the Carollo house this month. The family collects toys to donate to the Sutter Children’s Center, where their daughter Rosie was treated before she died in 2004. scaiola@sacbee.com

Flying reindeer, scores of lightbulbs and a giant Elf on the Shelf are just a few of the attractions on display at the Carollo house this month – all drawing eyes to a toy collection for children spending the holidays in the Sutter Children’s Center.

Nicole and George Carollo had always done decorations big, but the project took on new meaning after the passing of their first daughter Rosie in 2004, who died of infantile spasms, a form of epilepsy, at 21 months old.

Rosie spent much of her time at the Sutter Children’s Center in Sacramento, where staff kept her spirits up with gifts and games, said her mother. Hoping to give something back to the center, the couple put on their first drive eight years ago, collecting 700 items for the children. Now they receive upward of 1,600 donations each Christmas, including books, stuffed animals and arts and crafts.

“For a child (the hospital) can be very scary and very cold – and especially at Christmastime when you’re supposed to be thinking about home and warm things,” Nicole said. She remembers Rosie’s delight at receiving a basket of toys while in the hospital one Easter.

Donated toys will be wrapped by Sutter’s child life staff and handed out at Christmas, as well as on other holidays and patient birthdays throughout the year. Toys are collected in the Carollo driveway at 3961 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Sacramento throughout the month of December, and at a special event Sunday, where the family pays tribute to Rosie with festivities.

Call The Bee’s Sammy Caiola, (916) 321-1636.

Toy Drive to Benefit Sutter Children’s Center

What: A holiday toy collection for hospitalized children

When: Toy drive throughout the month of December. Event from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 3961 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento

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