Before nine-year old Andrea Brunk lost her 18-month battle with Leukemia in 2002, she spent many hours enduring chemotherapy treatments which were frightening and painful. In an effort to make the experience less stressful, her parents bought her to a toy as a special treat for being such a brave girl.
They saw first hand how a simple toy could make a huge difference in an otherwise very unpleasant experience. As a way of honoring his daughter and healing his grief after Andrea’s death, Kenny devoted his energy to establishing a toy program for other hospitalized children and Andrea’s Closet was born. Because of privacy issues hospitals would not allow him to visit the children and hand out toys so he convinced the first hospital to create a closet on the same floor as its treatment unit and allow the children to choose their own toy.
Today, Andrea’s Closets have gained space in 17 hospitals throughout Arizona. As with any successful program, new ideas spawn new ways to help. “Laptops for Kids” solicits laptop computers so children undergoing treatment can keep up with schoolwork and communicate with family and friends. “A Day Away” funds family outings like movies and go-cart racing to help kids get away from the hospital environment and recapture their smile.
But, the main program is still the closet full of surprises just waiting to be chosen by a child who needs a bit of happy time. According to Brunk “All I want to do is bring smiles, one toy at a time”
To Volunteer for Andrea’s Closet contact: www.andreascloset.org