Christmas comes early for kids in a Springfield hospital

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Children who will be in the hospital for the holidays celebrated Christmas early.

Missouri State Highway Patrol delivers toys to them in honor one of their own who was killed in the line of duty.

"It kind of keeps his spirit with us and his memory alive," says Jennifer Sampietro

Her husband, Corporal John Jay Sampietro was killed by a distracted driver, while he was directing traffic at an accident site, twelve years ago.

"After Jay died, it had been a year. We had been in grief counselling and just going through a lot of different stages in the grief," she said.

She helped to get stricter laws in place, in the name of her husband.

"We went to Jefferson City, to the capital and campaigned for the move over law," she explained.

Her other idea was to give toys to kids in the pediatrics wing at the hospital where her husband died.

"We all gather together here as officers, as community members in Jay's memory, bring a little happiness to the children who are forced to be in the hospital," said Sargent Jason Pace with the highway patrol.

Sampietro's fellow troopers helped Jennifer to develop a toy drive.

"I know that he would love it. It's neat watching, especially the family and the boys deliver these toys and knowing that their dad's looking down on them from heaven with a smile on his face," said Pace.

Jennifer Sampietro said it also helps her sons, too young to remember their dad before he died, get to know him.

"It tells me what he was about, the kind of stuff that he liked, what he liked to do. I think about trying to follow in his path," said Will Sampietro.

"I think he'd be amazed. I think he'd be proud of all of us and as much as we are proud of him," Jennifer Sampietro.

The organization works with the Children's Miracle Network to deliver toys to children throughout the year.