Making Magic Out of the Unexpected

Making Magic Out of the Unexpected

CHOC and CHLA give hope during the holidays

By Beth Duggan
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The magic of the holiday season is oftentimes found amid the unexpected: the kind stranger who helped change your flat tire, preventing you from being late for your appointment; finding $10 in your coat pocket when you’re short $9 at the grocery store checkout; or the chance meeting of someone you haven’t seen in years, which grows into a meaningful friendship. This kind of magic is also found amid the unexpected hospital stays for children at Children’s Hospital  of Orange County and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

Harley Toy Drive to Help CHOC

For the past 15 years, the Orange Coast Harley Owners Group and Orange County Harley-Davidson have delivered truckloads of toys to CHOC on Christmas Eve. This year, however, construction on the CHOC campus has brought an unexpected change of plans: Instead of making their annual stop at the hospital, the organizers have turned the event into a community toy drive.

From Dec. 11-Dec. 23, the Orange County Harley-Davidson dealership in Irvine will be accepting new, unwrapped toys and gift cards to benefit the children at CHOC, as well as hosting a pancake breakfast to anyone dropping off a donation on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 9am to 11am.

“These toys are given year-round to patients who often spend weeks or months inside the hospital,” said Emily Grankowski, child life manager at CHOC. “The toys are used as therapeutic play to help our patients adjust to their hospitalization. They enable us to further develop the children’s self-esteem and other social skills, while creating a positive experience.”

To view the hospital’s wish list, visit and click on “Give to CHOC,” then “Ways to Help.” For more information about the toy drive, email Orange Coast Harley Owners Group at

CHLA’s Artists in Residence program

With the receiving of gifts also comes the giving, and children at CHLA do just that. The Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program provides artistic therapy for children to express the fears and triumphs that are part of their unexpected illness or injury.

For the past 17 years, local artists and performers have collaborated with creative art therapists to reach children through group workshops in inpatient playrooms, one-on-one bedside interactions, waiting rooms and preoperative visits, helping them find avenues of expression, choice and control.

The inspired results of these efforts can be found on a calendar, greeting cards and notecards for sale in the hospital gift shop as well as on the CHLA website, Each piece seeks to highlight the talent and strength of these children and instill in them a sense of pride as an artist and poet.

“Our cards and calendar are always dedicated to the children of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles,” said Suzanne Lapis, director of associate and affiliate groups at CHLA. “It is truly exceptional and amazing that our young patients are able to produce this wonderful art and poetry when they are very ill. All of us who receive the calendar are the fortunate recipients of their talents. We honor our young patients as they express their lives. Their spirit comes shining through and inspires us all!”  

Beth Duggan is the editor of Working Nurse.

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