Students from PS 119 drop off toys for patients

On Wednesday, May 28th, three National Honor Society members representing the students of PS/IS 119 in Glendale, NY, delivered hundreds of new stuffed toys to the pediatric patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park. The toys will be used to teach patients about recovery from their medical treatments and simply to cuddle.

The idea for the community service project was spawned by Craig Edelman, a teacher at the school. He said, “I am a big Pat LaFontaine fan. When I saw what he was doing (opening of a Lion’s Den Room) at Cohen Children’s, I thought, how can we get involved?” Edelman rallied his National Honor Society members to begin a letter-writing campaign to ask for donations of new stuffed toys. Over the course of several months, the group was successful in obtaining almost 200 new stuffed toys for the pediatric patients.

Amanda Filippazzo is an assistant in the Child Life Department at Cohen. She said, “This is the perfect time of year to receive a gift like this. We are often overwhelmed with donations during the holidays. But as we enter the summer months, our supplies start to dwindle, so this is perfect for our patients.” Filippazzo brought a smile to the donor’s faces when she added that she had already earmarked one of the SpongeBob dolls for a special patient in need of cheering up.

Edelman was joined by students Shailha Alam from Woodside, Juritzi Rodriguez of Corona and Stephanie Lieu of Elmhurst. They agreed that the project gave special meaning to their final months before graduating from PS/IS 119. Alam said, “We feel very privileged to be able to represent our classmates and faculty at this hand-off today.”

Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park is the site of one of the interactive Lion’s Den Rooms created by Hall of Fame hockey player Pat LaFontaine and his Companions in Courage Foundation. Billie and George Ross donated the room to the hospital one year ago. Jim Johnson, executive director of the foundation said, “The Lion’s Den Room helps connect patients to the outside world through technology. This donation of stuffed toys goes to the heart of helping patients feel secure and warm during their hospital stay.”

Ann Marie DiFrancesca is the Child Life Director at Cohen Children’s. She said, “We are very grateful to Mr. Edelman and his wonderful students. Addressing the concerns of those in need is a valuable lesson that these students will carry through high school and the rest of their lives.”