Henry Mayo Teddy Bear Drive Launches in April
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s Annual April Teddy Bear and Friend Drive got off to an early start thanks to the efforts of two young Santa Clarita Valley philanthropists and a group of sixth graders.
Cindy Hoffman-Domaradzki and her granddaughters, Harlow Druez, 3, and Makenzie Druez, 5, made a very special delivery to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation President Marlee Lauffer in February. Lauffer gladly accepted the donation of several bags of teddy bears, which will be given to children who are patients in Henry Mayo’s Emergency Department. Harlow, who was a Henry Mayo ED patient not long ago, was given a teddy bear – Captain Leo – which she still sleeps with at night. Later, Cindy and her husband Rich bought all the teddy bears at a local department store as part of a competition with her sister to see who could donate the most teddy bears.
“I wanted to teach my granddaughters philanthropy at an early age and to show them the right way of doing things,” Hoffman-Domaradski said. “It’s important to give back to the community.”
Joining in this spirit of giving are sixth grade students from Fair Oaks Ranch Community School. Under the guidance of teacher Ken Newton, the young students donated plush animals and books – which had been donated to them by the Golden Valley Kohl’s. It’s all about character building and learning how to be good citizens, according to Newton.
As part of the drive, the plush animals make the ED visit a little easier and less stressful on young patients. Henry Mayo originally started collecting teddy bears and other plush animals in 2012 to celebrate National Teddy Bear Day. The collection drive has grown into a month-long event in April, bringing in 3,686 new teddy bears and other plush animal friends since the program began, according to Maria Strmsek, Director of Volunteer Services at Henry Mayo.
“Our donations arrived from various clubs, schools, business partners, our own employees and community members who just wanted to participate in giving back to their local hospital,” Strmsek said. “The donations continue to arrive throughout the year, and our pediatric patients receive so much comfort from receiving them.
“Since the beginning of January 2016, our Emergency Department has treated 11,559 pediatric patients 14 years of age and under. We receive calls weekly from staff to replenish our supply of plush animals for our young patients. Every donation makes a difference to each child who receives a soft animal to hold and cuddle during a very stressful time.”
The collecting process will be different this year. Organizers will be hosting a “Delivery Day” event of the community’s donations on Saturday, April 29 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Camelot Moving and Storage, 28040 Industry Drive, Valencia.
“We will be challenging all of our supporters to engage their friends, family members and co-workers to donate during the month of April,” she said. “We are very grateful to Camelot for graciously donating their storage space for our plush animals. Due to the generous donations we receive throughout the year, we don’t have space at the hospital. Although we appreciate all of our donations, the plush animals need to be new because we cannot utilize gently used plush animals for our ED patients.”
For more information, please call 661-200-1500.