NewsPinellas County


Florida charity brings holiday spirit to children's hospital rooms

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Posted at 11:48 AM, Nov 30, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For a child, there’s nothing like waking up on Christmas morning and running to the tree to see what Santa brought. However, some children wake up in the hospital, where there is no tree or decorations. That’s where the Greyson Project comes in.

“He was fantastic, he was rambunctious and had just a great little personality to him,” said Krista Heineke, referring to her nephew Greyson, who died in 2011.

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The Greyson Project was started as a tribute to Greyson (above) after his death in 2011.

“Greyson was in the hospital from Nov. 17 to February 1 so he lived one year and one week,” said Greyson’s grandma Marsha Heineke.

Greyson’s family remembers receiving Christmas decorations from a cousin, allowing them to bring the holiday spirit into the hospital room, and that’s what led to the Greyson Project.

“I think it’s just exciting for them that they can have an opportunity to just step back and decorate and just take their mind off of what they are there for,” said Ashley Cookson.

Cookson is leading the donation efforts in Tampa Bay. They have set up drop off locations across the country, including MA Fitness in St. Pete.

“We’re looking for all new items, we’re looking for trees, ornaments, we can do a wreath, window clings, some crafts, maybe an activity,” said Cookson.

Last year the Greyson Project delivered more than 1,300 bags of decorations to 27 hospitals in 12 states. All of Tampa Bay’s donations will be going to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

“It’s pretty amazing to see the legacy he’s left and impacting other children on his behalf,” said Krista.

Greyson’s family said they aren’t just providing trees and ornaments, they are also delivering love and hope.

“Thank you to all the people who donate, all the organizers, all the supporters, thank you,” said Marsha.

For more information on how and where to donate, go to