News

Ashley Kliewer is a social worker at INTEGRIS. She says they routinely have 10 to 15 children a month visiting loved ones at the Hospice House and that the stuffed animals will bring them comfort.

Local Family Donates Stuffed Animals to INTEGRIS Hospice House To Help Children Deal with Grief

The staff at the INTEGRIS Hospice House is dedicated to caring for patients and families facing life-limiting illnesses. It is where Ashley Sprinkle brought her father after he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. “It happened really quickly. He was diagnosed in January and passed away in August.”

The Sprinkle Family

Mike Viar was only 63 years old when he died. He spent his final days at the INTEGRIS Hospice House. “Everyone there was so incredibly supportive,” remembers Sprinkle. “They took great care of my dad, but they also took care of us as the family.”

Viar had three grandchildren, Katelyn (8), Cason (7) and Audriahna (5). One of the social workers at the INTEGRIS Hospice House gave the littlest grandchild a stuffed animal during one of her visits.

“It was a stuffed bunny that my niece would lay next to my dad when he was sleeping. It was a precious moment that made us all smile despite the circumstances,” says Sprinkle.

It was a small gesture that sparked a big idea. “My daughter, Katelyn, had seen a story on TV a couple years ago about a girl her age giving stuffed animals to a local hospital. We collectively thought we could do the same thing here.”

The family began asking their circle of friends to donate stuffed animals to the cause. “This is a courageous goal. Providing stuffed animals to other grief-stricken children is a very selfless act,” says Monica Coleman, the clinical director of the INTEGRIS Hospice House. “We want to thank them and encourage kindness.”   

Ashley Kliewer is a social worker at INTEGRIS. She says they routinely have 10 to 15 children a month visiting loved ones at the Hospice House and that the stuffed animals will bring them comfort. “Death can be hard to understand and accept at any age. Giving a child something soft and cuddly to hold can provide a sense of security. It also allows them to focus on just being a kid for a little while and not on the circumstances occurring within their family.”

Sprinkle Children with Stuff Animal Donation

The Sprinkles are overwhelmed by the response they have received. They were able to collect almost 100 stuffed animals in a short amount of time. “It makes me feel good inside to help other kids,” boasts Cason Sprinkle.

Viar, himself, had a giving heart. He started the Food Ministry at the OKC Dream Center that now feeds over 200 people a month. “I think my PaPa would be very proud of us,” claims Katelyn Sprinkle. “We’re doing something for other people just like he used to do.”

The Sprinkles will drop off their donations to the INTEGRIS Hospice House at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16. They hope to make this an annual event and a lasting tribute to their dad and PaPa.

Thanks to the Sprinkles, the INTEGRIS Hospice House currently has plenty of stuffed animals to pass along to grieving children. But anyone who would like to make an online donation may do so at integrisok.com/hospice or send a check to INTEGRIS Hospice at 5710 N.W. 130 St., OKC, OK 73142.   

2:38

Family Donates Stuffed Animals to INTEGRIS Hospice House

Learn how a small gesture turned into a big idea to benefit grief-stricken children.