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Published on April 23, 2016

Books and crayons and bears – oh my!Books and crayons and bears – oh my!

The Cape Cod Hospital pediatric unit was relatively quiet on a recent afternoon; just the gentle hum of a baby swing and soft background noise from a nearby television. 300That was until an overfilled cart with books and toys made its way around the corner.

At first, all you could make out were the abundance of items – fluffy stuffed bears, blocks and crayons. Then you noticed the picture books and young adult novels, before finally resting your eyes on two little hands. The hands belonged to Lucia Gizzi, a nine-year-old Indian Brook Elementary School student who was about to brighten everyone’s day.

Lucia, herself, is no stranger to volunteer work and charitable giving. She has donated her hair to pediatric cancer patients and has asked for dog and cat food donations for a local animal shelter, in lieu of birthday gifts. But this most recent act was a little bit different.

“I am in an afterschool program and we had to do a community project, so we chose to do this,” Lucia said with a smile.

Lucia and her classmates began planning the hospital donation nearly four months ago as part of Destination Imagination (DI, a non-profit, volunteer-led, cause-driven organization. Its mission is to inspire and equip students to become the next generation of innovators and leaders. The program encourages student teams to learn and experience the creative process from planning and problem solving all the way to execution.

Once the class decided to donate toys and books to a local pediatric unit, the real work had to be done.

“The group researched nearby hospitals,” said Cara Gizzi, Lucia’s mother. “I grew up on the Cape. My mother worked here at the hospital in registration, so Cape Cod is really near and dear to our hearts.”

The class managed all aspects of the project from the collection process and review of the donated items to coordinating the drop off.

“The best part was getting and going through all of the books,” Lucia added while holding up one of her favorites.

The Pediatric Unit at Cape Cod Hospital has patients from newborns to patients in their early 20s, said Sonia Chaudhry, MD, co-director of the Pediatric Hospitalist Program at Cape Cod Hospital.

“Some patients stay just one night, while others may stay a few. When their moms and dads stay and siblings visit there isn’t always a lot of room to move around, so this is really incredible to offer them – books are way better than just TV or movies anyway,” she said.

After unloading the first cart of goodies, Lucia and her mother returned to their van to bring up yet another round of boxes and bags. Everything from puzzles and playing cards to beanie babies are now ready and waiting for pediatric patients.

“You’re going to make so many people happy by this simple act,” said pediatrics clinical leader, Janet Kennedy, RN.

And with that, Lucia was able to personally hand out the first gift to a young patient recovering from surgery.

“Cape Cod Hospital really is such a family-oriented place,” added Dr. Chaudhry. “So it really makes you feel so good to see this. Just look at this girl, who worked with other kids, to come with this all on their own.”

[Featured Image, from L-R: Sonia Chaudry, MD, co-director pediatric hospitalist program; Theresa Austin, RN; Leslie Flynn, RN; Lucia Gizzi; Janet Kennedy, RN, clinical leader pediatrics; Susan Hurd, LPN]