CLARKSTON, Ga. — As a project in her Perspectives course, a Georgia State University Perimeter College student has launched a toy drive, using her experience with childhood cancer to give back to young patients dealing with the disease.
Avani Patel was 11 years old when she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of childhood leukemia.
The diagnosis sent the Gwinnett County middle schooler to the Scottish Rite campus of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, (CHOA) where she underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Now 19, Patel still recalls how the time she spent at the hospital affected her and how she saw other children with serious health issues as well. Although she was declared cancer-free after six months of treatment, a bout with shingles put her in the hospital’s isolation unit, limiting her time with family and friends while the infectious disease took its course.
“My only forms of entertainment were toys and TV,” she said.
She remembers how donated toys helped her pass the time at the hospital. For years afterwards, she pondered how to give back and show her appreciation.
“I always wanted to have a toy drive for the hospital, but the timing wasn’t right,” she said.
Professor Beth Wallace’s Perspectives course, “Diversity and Multiculturalism in Your Community” gave her the platform to realize the toy drive, she said. The course was created by Wallace to connect students to their respective communities.
“Avani said that CHOA was part of our community, and I thought she had a great idea,” Wallace said. The class embraced the project and began collecting toys,” Wallace said.
The toys are being collected in Wallace’s offices on the Clarkston and Decatur campuses (Building CA Room 1110 and Building SA Room 2280) and will be delivered July 18 to the Scottish Rite location, Patel said. Because of germs and infection control, the toys and games must be new.
Those wishing to make a donation can contact Patel by July 17 at [email protected] or drop the toys by Wallace’s offices in Clarkston or Decatur.