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UA club works to spread 'Christmas joy' to child patients at UAMC

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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Photo courtesy of Hannah Lucille Holman

A UA honors society is ensuring that sick children at the University of Arizona Medical Center have something to look forward to this holiday season.

The UA chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars is collecting toys for donation to give to sick children at the Steele Children’s Research Center.

The club is accepting toys, gift cards and cash donations throughout the week to raise money for the center, which is a division of the University of Arizona Medical Center that treats and researches all types of pediatric illnesses. It will also host Stuff the Truck on Thursday evening, where club members will load a U-Haul truck with donations.

Hannah Holman, the executive vice president of NSCS, said the club was looking for an charity that wasn’t receiving enough attention to sponsor. The treatments patients receive are often expensive, and some families may not have the time or resources to get them a special gift, Holman said.

“Our goal for this event is to spread a little bit more Christmas joy to these kids that otherwise may have not gotten that extra special gift,” Holman said, “or might be a little bit down because they do have to go into the hospital during this time.”

Rema Hamdan, a mathematics junior, is a distinguished member of NSCS who participated in the Stuff the Truck event last year. Hamdan said the event was nice because it brought together members of the club that she didn’t often have a chance to see, and that she got to bond with them on top of benefiting the community.

“What we want to do from last year to this year is just make it bigger and more impactful,” Hamdan said.

Event organizers said they thought that the Steele Children’s Research Center would be a great group to support since it works directly with children, Hamdan said, adding that the club helps students connect to the Tucson community outside of campus.

“It’s a really awesome idea, giving back during the holiday season,” she said. “It’s something simple. They can donate a couple bucks, five dollars, 10 dollars, to really help the community that they’re going to school in.”

Lori Stratton, the director of development for Steele Children’s Research Center, said that NSCS saw the opportunity to help even more children after it held a masquerade ball last month to benefit the University of Arizona Medical Center Children’s Pediatric Oncology Clinic.

“We were overjoyed,” Stratton said. “We have so many children and families in need.”

Stratton said a lot of the families were already struggling financially and that having a child be diagnosed with a serious illness often compounded their stress.

“So NSCS, by providing toys, gift cards, clothing for these children in need at the holidays, it’s a real gift to the families that we take care of,” Stratton said.

It’s often hard for people to put themselves in the shoes of others until they have experienced an illness in the family or a financially stressful time, Stratton said, adding that once people are in that situation, they realize what a big difference help can make to those that need it.

“Giving to people in your community strengthens your community and makes it a better place for everyone to live,” Stratton said.

Tasha Saffo, a senior studying veterinary sciences and microbiology and a distinguished member of NSCS, said the organization is trying to get as more people involved in the Stuff the Truck event in order to benefit the kids as much as possible.

“Even if you’re there for 10 minutes or so, it’s a little break from what you have going on at the time, and it’s nice,” Saffo said.

Saffo added that the event can be a moment of reflection for students who are focused on the busy aspects of the holiday season.

“It makes you think about what you have,” Saffo said, “and you’re thankful for what things that you have that, even as a kid, you might have had that these kids don’t have.”

The National Society of Collegiate Scholars will be tabling on the UA Mall every day and having a fundraiser at The Fix on Wednesday to help raise money and spread the word about Stuff The Truck.

Stuff the Truck will be Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Cherry Pullout near the intersection of Cherry Avenue and University Boulevard.

- Follow Maggie Driver @Maggie_Driver


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