Members of the Texas Association of Future Educators from El Dorado High School brought a little joy to the pediatric oncology patients at the El Paso Children’s Hospital.
The organization raised $1,700 to donate more than 73 outfitted stuffed animals to children fighting cancer at the local hospital as part of its Build-A-Bear community service project. This is the group’s seventh year undertaking the project.
“The students worked hard to raise the money,” said Dianna Sianez, El Dorado TAFE advisor. “It is so meaningful for them. They know they are giving back to the community.”
Her students had fun choosing the stuffed animals and creating their outfits. There were bears, bunnies and dogs decked out as the Darth Vader, an Army soldier, a princess, a sailor, Batman and Superman.
This year’s community service project was especially valued by Crystal Barrera. The 17-year-old participated last year and created three bears. Several weeks later, she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.
“The funny thing is the first few days at the hospital, they gave me a Build-a-Bear,” she said. “As I opened the box, I realized it was one of my bears I had created. I cried because I couldn’t believe it.”
The bear really helped her through surgery, chemo and recovery. It also gave her a resolve to continue to be a part of the project when she returned to school in the fall of 2017.
Barrera and others like her is the reason Alex Diaz decided to donate $400 to the project. The UTEP student is a tutor at the high school and graduated from El Dorado four years ago.
“It might not mean much to others, but these bears bring a little bit of joy to the kids,” Diaz said. “It can make a big difference to them. They know someone cares. I enjoy helping. It’s a beautiful experience and hopefully it will bring a smile to a child’s face.”