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Annual tradition, charity spreads cheer to local patients

Toys, stuffed animals and coloring books were handed out to patients at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center Wednesday as part of Cuddles for Kids. (WJAC)

JOHNSTOWN - Toys, stuffed animals and coloring books were handed out to patients at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center Wednesday as part of Cuddles for Kids.

The founder, Conner Hagins, started the annual tradition 11 years ago.

“My father was in the hospital for heart surgery when I was nine years old. He got a stuffed animal as a message to get well soon and from that moment on its been a light bulb idea: To give back to our community and give everyone a stuffed animal over holidays and year round,” said Hagins.

Over 140,000 stuffed animals and toys have been collected in 11 years.

“We’re always looking to make people smile and help them with what they're going through,” said Hagins.

Hagins is a Johnstown native and currently a sophomore at La Roche College.

"This has become a great holiday tradition," said Amy Bradley, director of Marketing Communications for the Conemaugh Health System. "It really brightens the day for our patients and visitors. Being in the hospital is tough, especially around the holidays. Patients really appreciate the thoughtfulness."

Holiday cheer spread throughout the hospital, one smile at a time.

“This is a wonderful program for someone to do something like this. Truly a heartfelt thing and we really appreciate it,” said Somerset resident Bonnie Miller.

“If we can just give back little things such as a stuffed animal, I know it goes the longest way and it’s something we live by,” said Hagins.

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