History of the Volunteers

History of the Volunteers

We are The Children’s Hospital Volunteers, Inc. Established in 1973 as a volunteer auxiliary and 501(c)3 charity, our purpose is to make a difference for kids at the hospital. Our longstanding programs bring generous community donations to life, and are valued and expected by our patients and families. We appreciate the dedication of volunteers who give their time to make a difference in the moment. While our placements and programs have grown and changed since the 1970s, the heart of our organization is the same -- partnering with Oklahoma Children's Hospital to offer best practice programs to kids and families with the help of amazing Volunteers and our community.

Make a gift to keep programs strong for another 50 years!

  • Our Toy Cart and Patient Pal programs began delivering toys and helping kids in the 1970s
  • Gift shop revenue and limited donations drove the early days of volunteer fundraising
  • A partnership with Junior League of Oklahoma City began in the 1980s
  • Amazing pet therapy volunteers joined the team in the 1980s
  • Puppy Love plush pups were first funded by the volunteers' charity and given out to surgery patients in the 1990s
  • The Zone (Aikman’s EndZone) opened with help from community donors and Teammates for Kids in “old Children’s” in 1998
  • Kohl’s Cares grant funding helped the volunteers' charity begin outreach programs in the 2000s
  • The NICU Cuddler volunteer program began in 2003
  • Funding for the Bob Moore Child Life Fellowship started through the volunteers' charity in 2006
  • Volunteer placements expanded when the hospital moved in 2007
  • The Zone reopened in its current location in 2010 with more than $500,000 in fundraising led by the volunteers' charity
  • A partnership started with Wiggle Out Loud family music festival in 2015, utilizing Kohl's Cares grant funds
  • The Junior League of Oklahoma City began sponsoring The Prom in 2015
  • Music Therapy started as a pilot project in 2016 with funds raised by the volunteers

2016 Program Impact Snapshot

  • More than 17,500 patients, siblings and family members visited The Zone, 350 special events, parties and celebrity visits were funded and coordinated, 280 full time volunteers and 1,200 community group volunteers gave their time
  • An endowment was established with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in 2016

2017 Program Impact Snapshot

  • Renovations to The Zone, funded by Teammates for Kids, brought a Microsoft Wall, sensory support and “In The Zone TV” studio in 2017
  • In 2017, Targa (a sweet golden retriever) became the first facility therapy dog in Oklahoma, thanks to Edmond North BALTO’s support of the volunteer charity and their vision for a “Paws for Purpose” facility and volunteer pet therapy program

2018 Program Impact Snapshot

  • By 2018, fundraising grew so strong that the volunteer charity, in alignment with Oklahoma Children's Hospital leadership, brought on 2 additional facility dogs -- brother and sister golden doodles, Ned and Dany.

2019 Program Impact Snapshot

  • In 2019, a year-long relocation and expansion of the PICU -- which closed The Zone for adjacent construction -- ended, allowing the STEM suite and new spaces for Music Therapy, Art Therapy and a School Program to line the hallway leading to The Zone.

2020 to present

In 2020, Volunteers were initially called off duty during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic but a small crew of 30 returned in the Fall, working through heightened precautions and ever-changing protocols to further the mission of the organization

Oklahoma Children's Hospital OU Health completed rebranding and first phases of integration with clinic partners in 2021, which also marked the first full year of an Office of Philanthropy -- allowing the hospital to receive donations directly, lift development work off the volunteer team's plate, and stand up sophisticated philanthropy best practice processes and systems to take fundraising to the next level. The volunteer charity board is collaborating with hospital leadership to smooth transition to this new model, and planning a vision to drive community involvement and strong patient programs for the next 50 years.