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Seneca Valley senior collects toys, donations for young patients

| Friday, April 1, 2016, 11:03 p.m.
Seneca Valley senior Emily Hess collected toys, gift cards and money to help the Child Life Department at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Seneca Valley senior Emily Hess collected toys, gift cards and money to help the Child Life Department at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Some of the toys collected by Seneca Valley senior Emily Hess wait to be delivered to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to be used by the hospital's child life specialists.
Some of the toys collected by Seneca Valley senior Emily Hess wait to be delivered to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to be used by the hospital's child life specialists.

When Seneca Valley senior Emily Hess wanted to find a worthy recipient for proceeds from her senior graduation project, she knew exactly where to look.

With plans to attend Edinboro University in the fall to study developmental psychology and a desire to work with children, Hess chose a project that would benefit the Child Life Department at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

In January, she launched an effort to collect toys, gift cards and money for the child health specialists at Children's, to aid their mission to help children understand new experiences and some of the anxious feelings they may have before, during or after a hospital stay.

“It can be a scary situation for a kid to be in,” Hess said. “Anything we can do to make it easier is important.”

The effort included a letter-writing campaign and an online appeal, and began with goals of collecting 20 toys and $75 in gift cards.

Those goals quickly were surpassed, as Hess collected almost 123 toys and nearly $700 in donations, all of which were delivered to the hospital on March 17.

“I could not believe the response we got,” she said. “It was pretty amazing.”

Hess, of Seven Fields, put together the collection drive with the help of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, whose officials came away impressed with her effort.

“We are continually inspired by the next generation of community philanthropists,” said Brian Harman, director, corporate and community giving, for the foundation.

“Emily has made the sick and injured kids in our community a priority, and for that we are most grateful.”

Hess said she hopes to remain in touch with her contacts at Children's as she pursues her career in child psychology.

“They have already been such a big help and given me a lot of contacts and resources I can use,” Hess said.

Vince Townley is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at 724-772-6364 or vtownley@tribweb.com.

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