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Written by Jenna Needham

The holidays are a time for friends and family, but most of all, it is a time for giving. Throughout most of the year, we all get wrapped up in our own lives and forget to appreciate those who have dedicated their lives to giving back every day. This is what sparked iQ Academy California-LA (iQLA) teacher Gary Gyultemiryan’s idea for the school’s December charity event.

On December 16th, iQLA invited current students as well as prospective students to go to Glendale Adventist Medical Center and create holiday cards and stuff mini-stockings full of goodies for nurses and patients in the oncology department of the hospital.

When asked why the school chose to do this event specifically, Gary told a touching story.

“My mom recently passed away from cancer,” explained Gary. “After that, students and staff at the school wrote me letters and I just remembered the feeling that gave me.

Back when I visited my mother in the hospital, I saw so many lonely patients. I also noticed that the nurses were working extremely hard, but they weren’t getting the appreciation that they deserved. So I thought that we could give back to them.”

With the comforting sound of Bing Crosby’s hit Christmas songs playing in the background, the students, parents, and teachers got to work. They hand-made cards and stuffed mini-stockings. For the patients, they filled them with sweets and for the nurses, they added things like new pens and small notebooks that would be useful on the job.

While preparing the holiday goodies, the staff, families, and students realized that many of them showed up because they were somehow touched by cancer as well. The event created a sense of camaraderie among the people in attendance.

“Everyone felt truly blessed,” said Gary.

After all of the gifts were ready, students got to hand them out personally to the nurses and patients.

“The nurses were elated!” said Gary. “When the students gave the gifts to the patients, they were so happy. They all walked out of the rooms with big smiles on their faces. I think it was a big sense of accomplishment and charity for everyone.”

This event was actually extremely close to Gary’s heart because these same nurses were the ones who took care of his mother during her last few weeks.

iQLA is hoping to make this a school tradition by holding this event every holiday season.

Thank you to members of the iQLA staff for helping make this possible and participating at the event: Gemma Berkely, Anvi Tran, Cathy Andrew, Susan Woodward, Christine Carrol, Priscilla Decker, and Sindia Jara among others.

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