Spectrum student launches holiday toy drive for Children’s Hospital
Teachers said Andrew Szczerba’s suggestion to launch the school’s first-ever Christmas toy drive came out of nowhere.
But the student’s idea grew out of kindness.
“I’m sure it will make a lot of kids happy,” Szczerba said.
The 15-year-old student at Monroeville’s Spectrum Charter School was giddy as he had his picture taken posing with toys he and his peers collected to donate to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on Dec. 12.
The public charter school has four classrooms and 32 students between the ages of 13 and 21 who have been diagnosed with autism or other learning impairments.
The inaugural toy drive was completely Szcerba’s idea, said Lori Yurkovich, Spectrum’s lead teacher.
She said he came to class one morning and asked her if the school had ever held a toy drive.
“I told him ‘I don’t think so,’ and he said, ‘So we need to do one,’” Yurkovich said, adding even his parents were not aware of their son’s idea. “So we’re just running as fast as he is, right behind him.”
The drive started Nov. 18 and will last through Dec. 11. Yurkovich hopes to have enough for each of the school’s 32 students to hand out at least one toy. With 23 collected in the first week, Szcerba said they’re well on their way.
“How about 50?” asked Szczerba, pausing to ponder. “Actually, how about 77?”
When Szczerba pitched the idea to his teacher, he was given homework to write up a proposal to present the next day to the school’s CEO. So he went home that night, wrote a proposal with specific directions as to how the toy drive should work – and designed a poster.
“Every year we need to have a toy drive,” he said.
Kathi Exler, Children’s donation coordinator, said there could be up to 300 children in the hospital over the holidays. She welcomes Szczerba’s, and numerous others, kindness and drive.
“We are always amazed at the continuous drive that kids and teens have to support our patients and families at UPMC Children’s Hospital,” Exler said. “This donation will greatly benefit the patients and will be distributed during the holidays. We greatly appreciate Andrew’s effort to give back to our hospital.”
Toys can be donated at Spectrum Charter School from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 3-11. For more information, call 412-374-8130.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .