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Toy drive offers hope to sick children, grieving families
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Michele James, Brenda Stouffer, Kaitlyn James, and KC Stouffer load toys donated to the Destiny and Isaac Memorial Toy Drive onto a trailer in 2011. Over 2,000 toys were donated to sick children at the Childrens Hospital of Central California. - photo by Photo Contributed



The Destiny and Isaac Memorial Toy Drive not only honors the memory of two children whose lives were cut short due to illness and tragedy, but also offers a way for grieving families to help others during a difficult time.

In February 2006, 6-year-old Destiny Beecroft lost her three-year battle with neuroblastoma, a cancer that forms in nerve tissue. Destiny’s mother, Desiree Denney, relied on the support of her extended family to get through the tough times during Destiny’s treatment and after her death.

Two years later that same family suffered another tragedy when 22-month-old Isaac Mannon drowned in his grandmother’s pool in Modesto. When Isaac was found in the pool, he was taken to Children’s Hospital of Central California, but never regained consciousness and became an organ donor.

Every holiday season the family and friends of Destiny and Isaac have come together to collect new toys and money for the purchase of gift cards for the patients of Children’s Hospital of Central California.

"When people are hit by a tragedy like this, it never really goes away," said Michele James, a family member.

Being able to do something for other sick children and their families during the holidays helps ease the pain of loss for Destiny and Isaac's families, James said, and also helps those who give to the toy drive.

"Even through their grief, they're helping," she said.

Barrels for toy collection are located at Tractor Supply Co. in Turlock, Oakdale and Ripon, and at Jura's on Center Street in Turlock. Barrels will be picked up on Saturday.

Donated toys will be distributed to Children's Hospital and the Charlie Mitchel Clinic, located next to the hospital. Money donated to the drive will pay for gift cards for older children and to purchase supplies for the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's Hospital.

Last year, the drive collected over 2,000 toys and money that went to the purchase of new crib mobiles and CD players for the PICU.

The hospital staff looks forward to the toy drive every year, James said, and they hand out about 100 toys a day to patients through the end of December.

"They just want them to be a kid opening a present on Christmas, not a sick kid," James said.

A dinner and raffle to benefit the toy drive will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at Jura's, 309 N. Center St., Turlock. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children and includes a tri-tip and chicken dinner. Tickets can be purchased by calling Michele James at 568-1112 or Chelsey Kane at 417-9954. Toys will also be collected during the dinner.