Bringing cheer to kids all year



Taylor Anastajsha Riley Cheer Guild 01 1124 md

On Giving Tuesday and every day, Riley Cheer Guild appreciates financial support and new toy donations.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist,

Annastaj’sha Taylor has been a Riley kid her entire life, so the 15-year-old has received her share of toys and crafts, courtesy of the Riley Cheer Guild, during her many hospital stays.

Diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disorder shortly after birth, Annastaj’sha is well-known on the ninth floor of Riley Hospital for Children, where she spent Thanksgiving last week.

She might not have been thrilled to be back in the hospital, but the team on 9 East was overjoyed to see her, according to her grandmother, Fredia Taylor, who works in nutrition services at IU Health North Hospital.

“She gets along really well with everyone there … unless you’re trying to stick her,” Taylor said, with a chuckle.

Taylor smiles holding a "Blockworks" Magazine in Riley

Thanks to Riley’s Child Life team, which helps to keep patients’ spirits up by distributing LEGOs, Barbie dolls, UNO cards, art supplies, crafts and other items from the Toy Room at the hospital, the teen has plenty to distract her from IVs and blood draws.

A sophomore at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet School, Annastaj’sha hopes to pursue a medical career after graduation, Taylor said, and ironically is taking a class now in phlebotomy – learning how to draw blood.

The Riley Cheer Guild depends on the generosity of donors to keep its Toy Room stocked with gifts for all ages. Check out its Wish List here.

All donations must be shipped to Riley Cheer Guild, 705 Riley Hospital Drive, RM 4510, Indianapolis IN 46202, or scheduled in advance for drop-off by calling 317-944-8705.

In addition, an anonymous friend of the Riley Cheer Guild will match all Giving Tuesday (Nov. 30) financial donations up to $1,000.

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist,