Daniella’s Journey began as Italia Folleco’s way to honor her daughter, who passed away from osteosarcoma. Since then, a branch of the foundation has extended to Heritage through alumnus Jamie Ostrow. Current president, senior Victoria Baez, and vice president, junior Logan Roberts, were among the first students who signed the form to establish the club’s inauguration. This past Sunday, the club took part in their first service event of the year.
The club focuses on its monthly community service at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Originally, Daniella was kept indoors for long periods of time during her hospital stays. She longed for the ability to feel the sun’s warmth on her skin and to hear the sounds of nature. As many other children felt the same way, the hospital created a setting to turn this longing into reality. The new part of the hospital, where children could escape from the confines of their rooms, became a place where volunteers and patients could interact. Here, volunteers and patients can play games and do arts and crafts with each other.
Daniella’s Journey raises money through school bake sales to purchase arts and crafts supplies to use with the children at the hospital. Every month, members of Daniella’s Journey visit the hospital and spend time with the kids. For their October event on Sunday, they made Halloween themed arts and crafts. These consisted of masks and foam figures resembling pumpkins, witches, skeletons and characters such as Frankenstein.
The time spent with these children gives them the opportunity to have fun and appreciate the time they have outside of their hospital room, but it also benefits the volunteers.
“There is definitely a benefit to interacting with the sick kids and putting a smile on their faces even if they are not feeling well,” Roberts said. For all of the volunteers, being around the children is an extremely rewarding experience. The children are able to get to know the volunteers and express their joys and passions, which has an extremely positive impact on those around them.
“Being with the kids makes you appreciate what is around you a little extra,” Baez said.