‘Surprise’ Toy Donation Adds Joy to Patients’ Wait
Ruben Almanza, right, and his brother Ivan enjoy some of the new toys in the UNC Craniofacial Center waiting room. Ruben is a patient at the center.
Second-year DDS student Allison Cavenaugh had spent months observing in the UNC Craniofacial Center, where she was impressed with the variety of health-care specialists who formed a team around each young patient.
She was equally impressed with the personalities of the young patients who received care in the center, housed in the UNC School of Dentistry’s Tarrson Hall.
“I was at a meeting for Miles for Smiles, and Dr. [Ron] Strauss mentioned that the waiting room for children was in need,” Cavenaugh said. “There were not a lot of toys. Some of the kids are in there for hours because they have to see so many specialists, and I thought it would be a really neat thing to get them some toys and things for the waiting room.”
A couple of years ago, Cavenaugh’s parents – Bruce and Alice Cavenaugh of Wilmington – had said they would prefer that their two children take the money they would have spent on Christmas gifts for them and put it toward charitable contributions that would benefit children. So Cavenaugh and her brother, Matt, have respected their parents’ wishes, and each year they add a page to a scrapbook detailing their experience.
This year, Allison Cavenaugh decided to fill the UNC Craniofacial Center with new toys and books. Her best friend, Marshall Long, also a second-year DDS student at UNC, donated a big rocking horse, which now presides over the right corner of the room.
One day in early December, Strauss – who is the dental director for the UNC Craniofacial Center and chairman of the School of Dentistry’s department of dental ecology – asked faculty and staff to come to the waiting room. He had been surprised when Cavenaugh brought the toys and books, and he wanted to see the reactions of the center’s staff.
“Dr. Strauss came and got us, and there was stuff spread out all over the floor,” said Valerie Miller, an office assistant in the center. “The whole floor was covered with toys. I was grateful. The kids just dive into these toys.”
Second-year DDS student Allison Cavenaugh is pictured with her parents, Bruce and Alice Cavenaugh, and her brother, Matt. The Cavenaughs had said they would prefer that their two children take the money they would have spent on Christmas gifts for them and put it toward charitable contributions benefiting children. Allison Cavenaugh bought toys and books for the UNC Craniofacial Center.