Donations to Children’s Hospital Impact Lives

‘Barbie Drive founder’ Anderson Florea-Vean shares his experience on why he chooses to donate to Children’s Hospital
Donations to Children’s Hospital Impact Lives

Anderson Florea-Vean, a sophomore at Smoky Hill, found himself in the same position as many friends and families of children seeking care at the Children’s Hospital Colorado. 

In 2020, his friend Jason Horton was diagnosed with leukemia. He spent over two years in and out of the hospital before passing away on Mar. 20, 2022. Throughout the process of his getting treatment, Florea-Vean was constantly visiting his friend and he saw how even small donations impacted the children’s families.

“I realized the impact those little things had on families, I mean little things like the toys or pillows that you don’t think are important,” he explained.

Florea-Vean founded the ‘Barbie Toy Drive’ to honor his friend and help brighten the lives of children and their families who are struggling through difficult times.  

“Anyone can participate in the Barbie Drive. I will drop off the [donated] Barbies at the hospital and they’ll be given to any kids who want them,” Florea-Vean said. 

Toys are not the only thing that can be donated to children’s hospitals.

“For those who don’t have the money to donate, you can also volunteer along with other donations to not only the kids, but families too,” Florea-Vean said.

Around the nation, children’s hospitals not only treat children but also the families that come with them. 

Science Educator Maureen Elliot at Smoky has a son, RJ, who has been in and out of the hospital since he was three years old when diagnosed with a disease called tuberous sclerosis. Tuberous sclerosis is an uncommon disorder that causes tumors to develop in many parts of the body. Throughout her family’s many stays in the hospital, Elliot shares the significance of the small gifts her family has received. 

“I mean when you’re just thinking about your kid’s health you’re not thinking about packing anything like pillows or blankets,” Elliot said.

When sharing her experience of packing everything and running to the hospital, receiving blankets from donations for her family was a significant event not only because none of those items were packed, but because it made it “more at home”.

“I honestly couldn’t tell you which one of the stays they gave us the blanket but I remember it being significant,” she said, “We were overnight for a couple [of] nights when someone showed up with the blankets and it just meant so much.” 

The fundraiser donating pillows and blankets not only provided RJ his blanket but also his two younger siblings. 

“It was honestly the sweetest thing, I honestly didn’t think they were for the families, just the kids in the hospital. It really warmed my heart seeing his two younger siblings also get a taste of home,” Elliot said.

Throughout the weeks her family was in the hospital, the Children’s Hospital workers helped a considerable amount.

“I talk to the nurses, especially at [the] Children’s Hospital,” Elliot says, “They’ll say their job is taking care of the kids, but their job is also taking care of the families and taking care of the parents as well.” 

One example is freshman Kinsley Whalen who has a sister, Vivian, a part of the 2023 ‘Make-a-Wish’ program. Kinsley shares her experience of hospital stays with her sister. 

“Throughout the process, health care workers have been a lot of help,” Whalen said, “Just like through the whole journey, kind of figuring it all out. They’ve been so understanding.”

Showing support and appreciation for the families and the children in the hospital goes a long way which is why Florea-Vean chose to start the Barbie Drive fundraiser.

“Just observing it when I was there, you see they can use more love and you know each [child] deserves something to cheer about,” Florea-Vean said.

Donating or choosing to volunteer your time can make a great impact on a family at the Children’s Hospital. 

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