Wed07302014

Community

Los Altos boy spearheads nonprofit to help patients at childrens hospital


Courtesy of Lin Leong
Los Altos resident Bryan Zhang, second from left, receives a certificate from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital for his philanthropic efforts. Pictured, from left, are Lucy Li, Bryan’s mother; Bryan; Jennifer Witte, the hospital’s community relations officer; Sophie Croen, the hospital’s donor relations program assistant; and Alan Zhang, Bryan’s father.

Four years ago, when Los Altos resident Bryan Zhang was 7 years old, he was admitted to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital with pneumonia. During his brief stay, his nurses brought Bryan a stuffed teddy bear to comfort him. He loved the bear and began to feel better.

After returning home, Bryan kept his new bear nearby and thought about the other sick children at the hospital and wondered whether they also received bears or other gifts that lifted their spirits while in the hospital.

Bryan and his parents traveled often, and Bryan usually returned with souvenirs from the countries he visited. He wanted to donate his souvenirs to children at the hospital instead of keeping them for himself.

Bryan sent a letter of thanks to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital for the bear and for helping him recover. He also shared his idea to donate souvenirs from his international travels to sick children at the hospital.

Bryan’s parents helped him take his vision to the next level by forming the nonprofit World Toys for Children Foundation, whose mission is to support Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital with donations that educate, inspire imagination and comfort sick children.

“The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital could not provide the world-class, family-centered care it does without the support of community members such as Bryan,” said a hospital representative. “It is truly inspirational to see children working to help other children, and it is amazing to see a child so young have such a strong philanthropic desire.”

The representative added that the hospital is “so happy that Bryan wants to share the joy of supporting Packard with his friends and family. We are so fortunate to have champions like him fundraising on behalf of the patients and families we serve.”

Philanthropic spirit

How did Bryan develop a philanthropic spirit at such a young age?

“Bryan is a wonderful kid with a big heart,” said Mia Tyson, Bryan’s aunt. “He plays with my son Andrew and always wants to give Andrew his favorite toys. I am very proud of his being so considerate and generous to other children.”

Bryan kicked off his first official fundraiser at his 11th birthday party Feb. 2. He included a note with the invitation to his friends from The Harker School in San Jose, explaining that all gifts would be donated to the hospital. The note suggested gifts of cash or gift cards, which would enable the hospital to purchase the most requested items. More than 100 children, parents and volunteers attended Bryan’s celebration, collectively raising $2,050.

“It was heartwarming to have watched the circumstances unfold that led Bryan to act upon his idea,” said Joe Rosenthal, executive director of advancement for The Harker School. “He clearly discovered the joy of giving, and this motivated him to want to continue to find ways to give to the children in the hospital. Involving his classmates like he did sets a good example, and perhaps it will become common for children this age to share their birthday presents with children less fortunate than they are in some way.”

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital representatives presented Bryan with a special certificate Feb. 20 acknowledging his philanthropic efforts and the World Toys for Children Foundation donation.

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