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Local student gives back for a cause

Teen donates $440 for kids toy drive

Posted: December 13, 2008 8:24 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2008 10:00 a.m.

Daniel Mills (right) gets a kiss from Rochelle Freedman, medical director at Prima Pediatrics in Canyon Country and a family friend of Mills for 16 years. Mills, who has cerebral palsy, donated $440 he raised for his birthday to buy Christmas gifts for less fortunate children.

 
While so many teenagers are perfecting their Christmas lists, local student Daniel Mills wants to give rather than receive this holiday season. He donated $440 given to him for his 19th birthday celebration to Prima Pediatrics' holiday toy drive.

Prima Pediatrics and the LETMESAIL Foundation for disabled teenagers and young adults are sponsoring a toy drive for kids in the hospital slugged "Share the Joy, Donate a Toy."

"Daniel and his mom came in about four weeks ago and said, ‘We want to do this,'" said Rochelle Feldman, Prima Pediatrics medical director. "In the interval, Daniel turned to his mom and said, ‘You know, my birthday's coming up and whatever money I get I want to donate to the toy drive.'"

Mills is a special education student at Valencia High School. He was born with cerebral palsy, is confined to a wheelchair and has impaired speaking abilities, but his condition hasn't stopped him from helping those who are less fortunate.

"Before his birthday, we contacted everyone on the birthday list and asked them to bring money instead of presents to donate to this cause," said Michelle Megeath, Daniel's mother. "Everyone came and gave really big. We decided to surprise Dr. Feldman. She had absolutely no idea that his plan was to do any of this."
Feldman said she was surprised by Mills's donation.

"(Mills and his mother) are two of the nicest, most generous people I've ever met, so I'm not surprised," she said. "But it's still amazing that a 19-year-old guy would want to do something like this. I thought he'd give $100 at most, maybe $50. He raised $440. I was absolutely blown away."

Feldman said the money will allow her to purchase nicer toys for the kids in the hospital.

"Normally we distribute a fair amount of toys, but most of them are dollar toys," she said. "Now we're going to be able to get much nicer toys for these kids to take home. We're (also) going to aim to get stuff that will help the disabled kids specifically, like electronics they can use more readily."

Feldman said she plans to use some of the money to buy holiday meals for about 20 families in need.

"Now we can give needy families a beautiful holiday dinner, which we weren't planning on doing. It's so exciting and it makes the holiday season fuller this year," she said.

Mills will accompany Feldman, clients from LETMESAIL and other volunteers when they distribute the toys to children in the hospital on Christmas Eve morning.

"Daniel is just really thrilled to go," Megeath said. "Our economy is dismal, but there's always a way to give back, there's always people less fortunate than yourself. Even kids who have severe disabilities feel that way and it's really important to them to give back."

Prima Pediatrics is collecting unwrapped toy donations through Dec. 22 at 18520 Via Princessa #C2, Canyon Country.

For more information call (661) 424-0900.

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