Photo of toys in bins in front of the Comprehensive Cancer Center

Cancer center toy store receives its largest donation of gifts, cash donations

Super Fritz & Friends Fund donates more than a thousand toys, $5,000 in gift cards

(SACRAMENTO)

The “Holiday Workshop” toy store at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center received its largest one-time donation ever this year. More than a thousand toys and $5,000 in gift cards were delivered by the Super Fritz & Friends Fund. The gifts filled the store to the brim and covered every age group. Also contributing to the toy drive was Kristine Tesauro and her clothing brand Catch Some Air.

Helping with the toy drive were pediatric hematology oncologist Anjali Pawar and fellow UC Davis staff members Shashwati Roy and Breanna Kiniry who organized a group of middle and high school volunteers in Folsom to help sort all the gifts. Afterward, two pediatric cancer survivors, Fritz Stark and Riley Blum, were some of the “helpers” who delivered the gifts to the cancer center.

The temporary toy store is located at the cancer center’s pediatric hematology oncology clinic and was started by the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department. Through Christmas Eve, parents of pediatric patients checking into the clinic or infusion room for chemotherapy secretly walked in, selected a book, stuffed animal and a toy for each of their children. Items not given away by Christmas will go to children in the clinic and infusion room on other occasions throughout the year.

four boys standing next to toy drive bins
Cancer survivor Fritz Stark (front) and brothers Payne (right) and Duke (left) join cancer survivor Riley Blum (center) to deliver the toys.

“The holidays are hard on families coping with pediatric cancer,” said Pawar. “I’ve watched many parents struggle between being at the side of their child during treatment while also trying to make the season bright for their other children. We thank all the donors who donated all the fun items, and their precious time for this event.”

Super Fritz & Friends supports families of children being treated for cancer at UC Davis Health. The effort was started by Ruth and Paul Flowers after Fritz, the toddler of family friends Anna and Ben Stark, underwent treatment for leukemia. The Starks joined the effort after their son completed treatment. Both the Flowers and the Starks wanted to help other families going through similar challenges faced during cancer treatment such as navigating insurance and time off from work as well as financial issues and other non-medical concerns. This year’s gift drive was an expansion of their commitment to helping families whose kids have cancer. The effort also includes funding a “family navigator” position to assist families of pediatric patients at the cancer center.

Ongoing donations can be made to the Super Fritz & Friends Fund, which has already touched the lives of more than 300 families experiencing the challenges of battling pediatric cancer. Donations can be made by clicking here.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 100,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 200 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 240 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.

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