|Toy mission builds on legacy of cancer patient|
By Lori Johnston*
August 19, 2009 | ATLANTA (UMNS)
Nine-year-old Raman Franklin heads to a special closet and
picks out a toy after treatments at the Aflac Cancer Center at
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Patient Raman Franklin selects free
toys to take home after treatments
at Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
On a recent day, a doctor’s kit helps ease the pain.
“There’s a ton to choose from,” he says. “They make me feel happy and good.”
That was the hope of another 9-year-old child, Joey Doolittle, who
worried about the dwindling items in the toy closet when he was a
cancer patient. Joey, who died from cancer in July 2008, asked his mom,
“Would people give money to a little kid?”
His effort to raise money to purchase more toys for patients has
continued in the year since his death. Friends and members of Joey’s
church, Cornerstone United Methodist, just outside Atlanta, have raised more than $30,000 and donated an estimated $30,000 worth of toys.
The first fundraiser for Joey’s Toy Box in 2008 raised $1,800.
“Joey counted the money and we were shopping by that evening,” says his
mom, Kim Doolittle. “He made the delivery on June 13 and passed on July
4, so he never got to see a child receive a toy. He knew he left me
with a full-time job.”
Volunteer Cindy Hunter (left), Joey Doolittle’s brother, Robby, and aunt
Marcy Doolittle sort through recent
toy donations at Cornerstone
United Methodist Church.
Games, action figures and other playthings have been donated
to three Atlanta hospitals as well as a facility in Dallas. Church
members have collected toys, gift cards and money and sponsored two
cancer patients and their families at Christmas.
“When I think about Joey, I think of toys and fun,” says Cindy Hunter,
a member of Cornerstone United Methodist Church and family friend. “We
raised money through yard sales, cookouts . . . and then our Sunday
school class has helped do numerous things.”
That included sharing Joey’s story—and the toy effort—with others who
Hunter says wanted to join Joey’s family and the church in caring for
young patients they didn’t know.
Although members of the church and community who make the donations
don’t see the impact on the children, Karen McCarthy does. The
hospital’s “treasure chest,” as she calls it, helps the young patients
endure shots and painful treatments.
“I wish they could see what I see every day of just a smile on a kid’s
face that there’s a toy that they get to choose from,” says McCarthy, a
child life specialist at Aflac Cancer Center.
Patients and their families are impressed the effort was started by a child, supported by his church.
“For a little boy to say, ‘I know how I felt being here and wanting
some enjoyment and wanting to feel good while I was here,’ that just
makes it all the more meaningful,” says Raman’s mom, Josette Franklin.
Kim Doolittle believes the effort allows people to continue to remember
Joey as a carefree, happy-go-lucky boy with a heart for others.
“Toys meant a lot to him and they got him through a lot, and watching
toys come in and being able to give those toys to kids, that keeps his
spirit alive,” she says.
*Johnston is a freelance journalist based in Watkinsville, Ga.
News media contact: Fran Coode Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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