BENNINGTON -- For nearly 25 years a Hoosick Falls woman has been delivering wrapped toys to the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in memory of her grandson.
Rosemary Kipp lost her grandson Jeremy Wilwol to a school bus accident in 1988, he was just 7 years old.
Kipp first got the idea while visiting the hospital with her late husband, Andrew Kipp.
"One of the nurses in the hospital was talking to me, she was a Shriner's wife and I am, too," said Kipp of the woman whose generosity she carried on.
"She told me she used to buy Christmas toys for children who were sick and in the emergency room during the holidays," said Kipp. "I took it over in memory of Jeremy -- maybe it will help other people realize this can be done."
Throughout the year Kipp purchases children's toys, games, puzzles and other small gifts, wraps them and delivers them to SVMC in time for the holidays.
"The nurses told me that last year they had a little girl come in who was taken care of in the ER, they gave her a gift and the mother was crying because she said that was the only gift she was going to get," said Kipp of the encouragement she received while dropping the presents off last week.
"When the little kids come in, they're scared. They're hurting and this is what they do -- they just give them a gift on their way out the door so they don't have bad memories," said Kipp.
This year Kipp estimates she collected 60 presents, but says financially she has no idea of the total. Rather, when she sees something in the store that a child might like she buys two or three of the items and puts them away, neatly labeled with the age of the boy or girl who will open it.
"Little trucks for the boys, puzzles for the older kids and anything that has to do with dolls or games for the girls," said Kipp of her strategy. "I figure, the little ones -- they'll enjoy whatever it is."
Kipp's daughter-in-law, Diana Kipp, works in the hospital and has seen the dedication to the cause that Rosemary, and formerly Andrew, have displayed over the years.
"Back when Jeremy was killed -- even though they couldn't do anything, everyone was just so thankful that [the hospital] tried," said Diana. "This was their way of giving back to others, and hopefully brightens their stay. "
Formerly the emergency room coordinator, Diana Kipp is now a medical coder at SVMC, but she remains closely involved with the family tradition.
"At different times we have had wrapping parties, people would come and wrap the presents all at once," said Diana Kipp, noting that at one time there was a Christmas tree on display in the ER.
"Space is at a premium in a hospital," said Kipp, but the gifts can still be seen laid out under a tree in the waiting room. "When a little kid comes in, whoever the nurse or the technician is, someone offers them a gift."
This year is especially meaningful for the Kipp family, as Dec. 19 marks the 25-year anniversary of Jeremy's passing.
Although she has carried on the tradition for almost a quarter of a century, Rosemary Kipp wants to share the credit.
"I don't do it all alone," she said. "There's always someone to say ‘Here, add this to the hospital group.' So naturally, I'll take it and wrap it up."
Contact Khynna at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @khynnakat.