Monday, January 24, 2011 - Community Groups Bring Holiday Cheer to Pediatric Patients at Coral Springs Medical Center

Coral Springs, FL - Pediatric patients at Broward Health Coral Springs Medical Center and their siblings received some unexpected surprises this holiday season thanks to donations of toys from local businesses like Jared Jewelers, community organizations such as the Coral Springs Chamber of Commerce and previous patients and their families.

Each year during the holidays, Janice Zack, child life coordinator at Coral Springs Medical Center, puts on her elf hat and heads out into the community to pick up loads of toys and treats that are distributed to patients.

“I knew the holidays were approaching when I got my annual call from the Sudler family,” said Zack.  “They’ve been donating toys since 2002. Every year they come with a SUV loaded with toys and they always make sure to have age appropriate gifts for everyone - from babies to teens.”

Zack said that the most heartwarming contributions came from past patients, many who have been returning to the hospital to make donations for many years. 

Ben Gajus, now 17 years old, was a patient back in 1995.  He and his mom began bringing toys for the pediatric patients in 2004.  Every year since, they have returned to bring toys during the holidays. Last February, Jade Soto was a patient. During the year she organized several toy drives with her fellow classmates at the Coral Springs Charter School. This year they visited each patient and left gifts for them and their siblings. Trevor Drew’s family organized a friends and family toy drive.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation invited Zack to go shopping in their toy storage area. “I left that day with my entire care loaded with toys,” said Zack.”

Smiling Faces Forever Foundation made a visit, bringing toys for each patient, sibling - and even young visitors.

The Coral Springs Chamber’s Ambassador Committee selected the child life program as a recipient of their toy drive. They brought a huge wagon full of coloring books, crayons, play-doh, cars, and Barbie dolls for the staff to distribute throughout the year.

Jared Jewelers donated 100 beautiful stuffed bears which were given out the week before Christmas to patients in the pediatric emergency department.

Groups from the local Coral Springs community came out in force with donations:
-Starlight Children’s Foundation accompanied Santa to the hospital to give out gifts
-The Garden Club of Coral Springs donated coloring books, crayons and small toys
-The Coral Spring Quilters made 50 quilts
-The Coral Springs Rotary gave out gifts, brought a magician to entertain the patients and donated coloring books and crayons
-Santa Ed visited patients for the second year in a row
-Smiling Faces Forever Foundation distributed gifts on Christmas Eve Day - and plan on returning for Valentine’s Day and Easter
“Needless to say, our Hanukkah and Christmas was bountiful and the children and families were so grateful,” said Zack. “The added bonus is our child life program received many needed supplies to use during the New Year.”

Coral Springs Medical Center is a facility of Broward Health. Providing service for more than 50 years, Broward Health is a nationally recognized system offering world class health care services to our neighbors in South Florida. One of the 10 largest public health systems in the nation, Broward Health includes Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston and more than 30 facilities of the Community Health Services and Broward Health Physician Group. For more information visit,

(L to R): Mom - Jacqueline Cortes; patient - Esperanza Cortes-Lozano; and sister Daniella Cortes-Lozano and Santa.