Niswonger license plate sales fund toys for young surgery patients


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Undergoing surgery can be an unsettling time, especially for a child, but Niswonger Children’s Hospital goes the extra mile to make sure every young patient has something to look forward to after their procedure – a new toy, provided by funds from the Niswonger specialty license plate.

The plate, adorned with the hospital’s friendly mascot, Scrubs the bear, has been funding the toy purchases since the hospital first opened nearly four years ago, providing a service that is special to the staff and patients.

“It’s uplifting for the kids,” said Karen Smith, recovery nurse at Niswonger. “It makes a scary situation a little easier to handle.”

Every quarter of the year, a few of the Niswonger surgical nurses go shopping to restock the room. They load up shopping carts with the all kinds of toys – stuffed animals, balls, art supplies, games, dolls, jewelry and more – and try to have a selection that offers something for toddlers, elementary ages and teenagers.

Niswonger’s surgery patients can enter the toy room before their procedure to hand-pick a toy of their very own to take home after they leave the hospital. Gift cards are often given to teens, a nice perk for having to go into surgery.

“When we take a kid into the toy room they get so excited to see everything,” said Debbie Carr, a registered nurse working in the Niswonger surgery center. “Even the parents are excited.”

Carr said this is a great time to educate parents on the license plates that fund the toy program. 

“Our pediatric population has really increased, so funding the toy room by selling the license plates is important,” Carr said.

Niswonger Children’s Hospital needs to have sales of 1,000 plates to maintain its specialized plate status with the state. The motto: “Put a bear on your bumper!”

The Niswonger tags are available at any Tennessee county clerk’s office where you normally buy your tags. Ask specifically for Niswonger Children’s Hospital tags. The annual cost is about $56.50, varying slightly from county to county. From that, $15.62 is allocated to the Foundation to benefit the children’s hospital. The plate can be personalized with five characters available.


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