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Glendale hospital surprises every Cerritos Elementary student with holiday gifts

Glendale hospital surprises every Cerritos Elementary student with holiday gifts
Cerritos Elementary sixth grader Lilianna Maksimova takes a quick peek at her gift which was purchased by employees of Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital during a Spirit Assembly Wednesday. (Miguel Vasconcellos / Glendale News Press)

On Wednesday, for the fourth consecutive year, the roughly 400 students attending Cerritos Elementary School were each given a holiday gift bought by employees at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital.

Before the revelation of hundreds of gifts hidden behind a stage curtain, parents, teachers, hospital staff and members of the Glendale Fire Department watched as the school’s principal Perla Chavez-Fritz honored 45 Cerritos students for “demonstrating compassion.”

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Cassie McCarty, director of mission integration at Glendale Memorial, congratulated the students before she drew open the stage curtain and revealed the hundreds of wrapped holiday gifts, followed by prolonged shrieks of excitement from the students.

“The hospital does such an amazing job of making this happen,” Chavez-Fritz said. “The focus today was their generosity, but we’re so grateful that they’ve become part of this quaint family.”

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Cerritos Elementary students react as a stage curtain is drawn to reveal gifts for them purchased by employees of Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital during a Spirit Assembly Wednesday.
Cerritos Elementary students react as a stage curtain is drawn to reveal gifts for them purchased by employees of Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital during a Spirit Assembly Wednesday. (Miguel Vasconcellos / Glendale News Press)

For about a decade prior to 2014, hospital employees sponsored a small number of the school’s students for a holiday gift until it was decided four years ago by hospital officials that every kid at Cerritos should receive one.

Members of Christina Melkonian’s sixth-grade class tore through their wrapped gifts and shared with each other a slew of Legos, board games, action figures and dolls.

“They love it. A lot of them, they don’t have the privilege of getting many presents at home,” Melkonian said, referring to the school’s Title I status. “This is a very nice, exciting and joyful day for them.”

Melkonian’s class president, Kyle Chico, 11, said he loves Legos and board games. Behind his gift wrapping was the “Ship of Treasures” board game.

“Today was like Christmas,” he said. “It’s something maybe you’re expecting, but you don’t always know what you’re going to get.”

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