MOSS students focus efforts on Children's Hospital families

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 10:05 p.m.

Elisa Panseri's Hyundai Elantra was overflowing with dolls, play sets, puzzles and other toys – so many, in fact, that she barely had room to get in.

While the more than $500 worth of donated toys, students at Mother of Sorrows School gave patients at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC something to smile about last month. And Panseri's students plan to continue helping families at the Lawrenceville hospital.

“We talked about having a year-long project, and this is who they wanted to help,” said Panseri, student council advisor at the Murrysville school. “They wanted to give to other kids.”

Student council kicked off the project by collecting toys for patients before Christmas. Next up, officers plan a “Pennies from Heaven” campaign to raise money to help families of patients with expenses such as parking, gas and food. The third donation student council has planned will benefit the hospital library. Student council President Kaylie Shojaic said the group hopes to raise at least $500 to buy more books for patients through bake sales and a “Just Dance” competition.

“They don't have many books for the kids, and we thought it was a good idea to give them something to help expand their knowledge,” said Shojaic, 14, of Penn Township. “Hopefully, we can get over ($500), because they are lacking there.”

Arielle Carreau, 15, of Penn Township, said she was impressed by her classmates' generosity.

“I was surprised, at first, because we have a lot of projects going on right now,” Carreau said. “Everyone really cared about this project.”

Denise Esposto, manager of the child life department at the hospital, appreciated the students' giving spirits and said the gifts will be distributed throughout the year.

“Donations for the patients and families are always appreciated but are especially meaningful when they are given by children for children,” Esposto said.

“The toys and gift cards donated by the students from Mother of Sorrows School were not only distributed to the patients during the holidays, but will also be used during the year for special events and in the playrooms — given to a child for a birthday present, restocking the playrooms, given as prizes during bingo games, etc.”

Panseri said it was important for the children to have a project work on throughout the year, rather than just during the holiday season. She is confident the group will meet — and possibly exceed — its goals.

“They're very giving kids,” Panseri said. “They're developing a sense of giving back. We're fortunate they understand at a young age that giving back is the most important thing, even though they don't have those needs themselves.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or

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