TAMPA -- Delwyn Collins is a giver who asks for nothing in return. For 28 years, the Tampa General Hospital employee has purchased toys for Tampa-area foster children with his own money. For nearly three decades, he has single-handedly provided thousands of smiles.
“I don’t ask for nothing in return,” he said in front of a wall of newly-purchased Christmas toys. “I tell everybody loud and clear: please don’t get me anything.”
PHOTOS: TGH 'giver' finally gets
This year, the hospital staff didn’t listen.
A few days after his September 11 birthday, the staff surprised Collins with a dream trip – tickets and hotel stays at Orlando’s Walt Disney World resorts. He hasn’t been to the parks in 30 years. Now, the hospital’s biggest giver was on the receiving end of a gift.
“We all wanted to give back to him and he’d mentioned something about wanting to go on a trip to Disney,” said Kim Christine, the TGH employee wellness manager. “We thought this was the perfect opportunity with his birthday to give back to him in just a tiny, little way. We could never give back to him what he’s given to us.”
Collins was shocked that his co-workers would do such a surprising thing.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m just kind of caught off guard,” he told the crowd that had gathered to give him a Mickey Mouse birthday cake.
Collins will visit Disney in January with a co-worker. Last year, he was awarded a Community Hero award from the Tampa Bay Lighting. The honor and recognition included a $50,000 grant to use in a non-profit of the winner’s choice. He purchased presents each of the last two Christmases with the grant money and still has plenty left for the future.
In 28 years, Collins and the hospital have partnered with local foster care agencies to provide 14,000 children with gifts.
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