MIDDLEBURY — Kiana Tan, a Westover School sophomore from Seymour, organized a community service project that provided 11 holiday gift bags to children affiliated with Danbury-based Regional Hospice. Starting early this fall, Kiana worked on the project with Robyn Ames, Westover’s director of community service, and Mary Beth Hickey, director of Regional Hospice’s volunteer youth program and school outreach.
Kiana organized her fundraising efforts through door-to-door solicitation and through the sale of PuraVida bracelets to Westover students.
As a result, Kiana was able to purchase enough gifts to provide holiday bags for 11 children and teenagers ranging from 10 months to 18 years old.
All of the children are affiliated with the Regional Hospice program and include patients, their siblings, and one child of a Hospice patient.
The individualized bags include a range of gifts depending on the age and gender of the recipient including dolls, action figures, polar bear stuffed animals, activity books, candy and gift cards.
Each gift bag will also have a holiday card with handwritten notes from Westover students.
The gift bags were delivered to Regional Hospice and distributed to the program’s nurses who will bring them to the 11 children and teenagers.
Kiana started a nonprofit organization called Cherishing Dolls several years ago. “Its main purpose was to raise money and buy American Girl doll packages to give to girls at local hospitals,” she said.
Kiana was given her own American Girl doll when she was eight years old.
“She was my comfort,” Kiana said.
When she was 11 years old, she decided she wanted to give girls who were seriously ill the same source of comfort.
With her parents’ support, she started the nonprofit and began raising funds to purchase American Girl dolls, each with an extra outfit and the book that shares the doll’s American Girl story.
Over the past four years, Kiana has assembled more than a dozen American Girl doll packages that she has brought to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, where she works closely with Kelly Foy, MS, CCLS, who serves as the Center’s child life specialist.
Kiana continues to raise funds for American Girl doll packages with the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Regional Hospice in a non-profit agency that provides expert hospice care to patients wherever they are: in their home, in a skilled nursing facility or in a hospital.