Toluca Lake family leads effort to give gifts to low-income families

Denise Dador Image
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
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Volunteers pick up presents at Target to be given away to low-income families as part of a Toluca Lake family's holiday giving effort.

BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- A Toluca Lake family is paying it forward.

They're grateful to a local hospital for saving their two little boys.

They teamed up with Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and Target to help as many families as they can.

The Hissrich family's single blessing sparked seasons of giving.

Volunteers received their assignments and went off to fill their carts with coats, clothes, shoes, toys and electronics to give away.

Family friend and volunteer Michelle Lankwarden said, "We saw something we can do and it was easy. It was simple as getting the word out, sending an email to some friends and putting it on Facebook."

Lauren Hissrich added, "It is the generosity of our friends and family who share the message and give so much every year to make it possible."

Hissrich and her husband Michael started collecting toys for Providence St. Joseph Medical Center after their first son Harry - just 24 hours old- stopped breathing while he was in their neonatal intensive care unit.

Her second son was also born premature.

"This one was born five weeks early. My other son was born three weeks early. The good people at Providence St. Joseph's Medical Center gave me my boys," said Hissrich.

"We started out our first year with $2,000 and this year we have raised $28,000," said Lankwarden.

For the past six years, the Hissrich family and friends have teamed up with Providence St. Joseph Medical Center to distribute these items to local agencies who serve low-income families. These families can then pick out exactly what their families need.

"That's really nice because then the parents can feel like they're shopping as well," said Sister Shirley Browne, director of Mission Services at Providence St. Joseph.

She said some of the clothing and toys will also go to families who are homeless.

"We take care of the people within the walls and the people outside of the walls of the hospital," Browne said.

All the volunteers agree that giving back feels good, and it's also fun!

Volunteer Laura Himelson said,"We luckily got boys ages four to eight. We are huge 'Star Wars' and Lego fans and we thought what would we like to play with if we were kids and this is pretty much what we came up with."