2011-11-17 / Health & Wellness

Teens lend at hand for Children’s Hospital L.A.

By Anna Bitong


HELPING SICK KIDS—Members of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Teen Guild display the backpacks filled with school supplies they collected for adolescent patients at the hospital. Members are, front row, from left, Donia Torabian, Morgan Rice and Chris Kimes. Middle row: Chris Shahbazian, Shannon Reiffen and Marissa Mackel. Back row: Jennifer Grey, Noelle Geckle, Kylie Kinder, Emily Goldberg and Andrew Mackel. Guild members hail from through the Conejo Valley. HELPING SICK KIDS—Members of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Teen Guild display the backpacks filled with school supplies they collected for adolescent patients at the hospital. Members are, front row, from left, Donia Torabian, Morgan Rice and Chris Kimes. Middle row: Chris Shahbazian, Shannon Reiffen and Marissa Mackel. Back row: Jennifer Grey, Noelle Geckle, Kylie Kinder, Emily Goldberg and Andrew Mackel. Guild members hail from through the Conejo Valley. “If you give a mouse a cookie . . .” reads Marissa Mackel to young patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Marissa, a volunteer with the Teen Guild, part of the Centennial Guild hospital support group, videotaped herself reading the classic children’s book by Laura Joffe Numeroff and other stories for DVDs that are distributed to hospital patients along with books.

The threat of germs prevents the sick children from receiving visitors.

“The kids look forward to the carts with DVDs that go by,” Marissa, a senior at Louisville High School in Woodland Hills, learned from hospital staff. “It’s a fun way to interact with them and make their hospital experience more personalized.”

The Centennial Guild is a group of 100 volunteers from the West San Fernando and Conejo valleys dedicated to fundraising for the award-winning Children’s Hospital and its Adolescent Medicine Division.

Teen Guild volunteers are high school students who are children of Centennial Guild members.

Their recent projects include filling 140 backpacks with school supplies and snacks for adolescent patients, gathering new and used DVDs for each patient floor, and collecting 750 children’s books for patients to choose from and keep.

Through Dec. 31, the Barnes and Noble in Westlake Village will accept new book donations for the hospital. The groups also collect toiletries, underwear and socks for homeless and at-risk teens in the adolescent division.

Guild fundraisers held throughout the year—including a gala hosted by Jay Leno in 2010—benefit various hospital departments, said Centennial Guild volunteer Louise Rice.

In addition to supporting hospital operations, the guild’s work cheers up children who may need to be in the hospital for a long period of time.

“Some kids are in the hospital for months and months. They’re the sickest kids,” Rice said.

“Children’s Hospital is a firstclass medical institution. It never turns a child away,” she said. “You can see the dedication of all the staff, from the people behind desks to the doctors.”

Marissa, a member of the Teen Guild for four years, said her group is dedicated to lifting the spirits of patients with toy drives and the holiday placemats she crafts with other volunteers.

“I hope these kids know there are people out there thinking of them. Kids just like them are trying to help make them happier,” she said.

Children’s Hospital L. A., the largest pediatric hospital in Southern California, serves more than 93,000 children a year and operates The Saban Research Institute, where an international team of 100 researchers and physicians work to fight cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses.

Those interested in becoming a member of the Centennial Guild should send an email to centennialguild@aol.com.

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