When Ho-Ho-Ho! is a No-No-No: In-kind donations for the holidays


Here come the in-kind donations! This is the time of year when gifts start pouring in to Concierge Services: toys, clothes, food, and so much more.

And a lot of it we can’t accept.

“We are blessed with a generous community,” says Sheri Austin of Concierge Services. “We need to direct that generosity to donations we can actually use.”

Well-meaning donors may imagine delivering beautifully wrapped gifts or trays of homemade baked goods straight to sick people. They may picture the happy smiles on critically ill children’s faces as they hand them balloons and candy. Or they might think that all those old blankets and toys in the garage would be perfect for our patients.

Unfortunately, none of this is true. Donors who call or click for information on in-kind donations (conveniently located at 319-467-8087 and uihc.org/kind-donations) will learn that:

  • All gifts must be unwrapped
  • We cannot accept homemade food of any kind, for patients or staff
  • Donors are not permitted on inpatient units
  • Latex balloons are not allowed
  • Many patients are on restricted diets, and cannot have candy
  • All gifts must be new

All these rules, and many more, are for the safety of our patients. Our privacy guidelines are also for the safety of the donor:

  • Please do not bring gifts in memory of a specific person’s name
  • Please do not include last names identifying the donors on handmade cards

Some common-sense guidelines also apply:

  • Don’t include business cards – your donation shouldn’t be a solicitation.
  • Always call Concierge Services at 319-356-1900 or 319-678-5500 before you plan a group project or visit, or delivery of a quantity of gifts.
  • Don’t assume your choir can wander the halls. For musical performances, contact Mark Bernat, Project Art Performing Arts Coordinator, at mark-bernat@uiowa.edu or by phone at 319-384-8068.

Visit the wish list for great ideas for gifting. The biggest impact you can make is a monetary donation, which provides support for our most urgent needs.