The Greyson Project spreads Christmas cheer to sick kids

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Staff report

Conor and Brayden Heronimus put together elf- and Santa-themed gift bags for kids at Sanford Children’s Hospital this Christmas in honor of their cousin, Greyson. Submitted photo

A
 national movement to bring Christmas to children in the hospital over the holidays has spread to South Dakota.
The Greyson Project is named after Greyson Heineke, a child who died from a rare genetic disorder shortly after his first birthday in 2010. He spent 80 days in the hospital, including Christmas.
Greyson had five cousins in Brandon – Andrea and Jeff Heronimus’s two sons and Travis and Amy Kasten’s three sons.
While Greyson was in the hospital, the Heronimus and Kasten families put together gift bags to decorate his hospital room in Florida, where the Heinekes lived at the time.
“We felt powerless to do anything for Greyson and his parents. From this, grew The Greyson Project,” explains Andrea Heronimus, who brought the movement to South Dakota this year. 
The student council members at Robert Bennis Elementary and Brandon Valley Intermediate School, where her sons attend school, are putting together gift bags to donate to children at Sanford Children’s Hospital this Christmas, and RBE and Performance Press in Brandon are accepting drop-offs from the public.
“It’s just a way to bring joy to people – joy to kids, put smiles on their faces, let them have the feeling of Christmas, the feeling of the holidays, and it brightens their spirits,” Heronimus said.
Service First Federal Credit Union in Sioux Falls, where Travis Kasten serves as its president, has also agreed to be a drop-off pointw for The Greyson Project. 
Gift bags can include pre-lit Christmas trees up to three-feet tall, battery-operated lights, window clings, snow globes, or items for a child to enjoy in the hospital, such as coloring books and crayons, comfy socks or holiday CDs, Heronimus said. Food, stuffed animals, plants and glass are not suggested, but theme bags are welcome. 
Items should be new with tags and include a tag from the donator. Performance Press is providing free cardstock tags for the public, and gift tags may also be printed on the website at thegreysonproject.org.
The Greyson Project has spread to 13 states since Tyson and Heather Heineke founded the nonprofit in 2015. 
In its first year, 71 bags were donated to two major hospitals in Orlando. In 2016, 495 bags were delivered to nine hospitals in five states. Last year, 979 bags were delivered to 23 hospitals for children who were not able to make it home for the holidays.
Gift bags may be dropped off in Brandon at Performance Press, 900 E. Redwood Blvd., or Robert Bennis Elementary, 2001 S. Sioux Blvd. and in Sioux Falls at Service First Federal Credit Union, 3901 E. 10th St. or 3600 S. Kiwanis Ave, through Dec. 20.
For ideas on hospital-approved gift bag items or more information on The Greyson Project, visit the Facebook page or website.

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