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DVD drive under way for kids at DMC

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Ripon High students, from left, Desirey Ormande, Randy Machado, Patrick Nelson, and Janely Calderon are working to restock a children’s playroom at Doctors Medical Center with DVDs and related equi...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED February 2, 2013 1:19 a.m.

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Months of planning and execution.

A thousand or more bright eyes lost in the glow and wonder of a children’s playroom at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

That’s the plan, says Ripon High Activities Director Jill Mortensen.

Each year, Mortensen challenges her Leadership class with 10 hours of community service per quarter. It’s a manageable number, she says, but…

“I expect a lot.”

Four students have met her expectation, and with the help of the senior class and Walmart, they hope to brighten and impact the lives of DMC’s youngest patients.

Randy Machado, Janely  Calderon, Desirey Ormonde and Patrick Nelson have begun a drive to re-stock and update a playroom at Doctors Medical Center with new and gently-used DVDs, new DVD players, and portable DVD players for those too sick or weak to leave their room.

“There is more world outside of Ripon,” said Mortensen, now in her seventh year as the school’s Leadership instructor.

“We’re a small town and we have small perspectives at times. These kids want to do things for these kids.

“They’ll take these experiences with them as they pursue the next adventures in their lives, and it will help them.”

Right now, the focus is on the hospitalized children and replacing entertainment-and-release resources that had either broke, been damaged from use or grown old.

The committee was formed after Mortensen received a request from Melissa States, an employee at DMC. States and the Ripon High Leadership class had previously worked together on a teddy bear drive.

“They had me in tears,” Mortensen said of last year’s teddy bear drive. “These kids were dying of cancer and they went down and played with them; gave the stuffed animals.”

Mortensen put States’ latest plea to all 47 of her Leadership students. Only Machado, the committee chair, Calderon, Ormonde and Nelson responded.

Machado views the project as a pay-it-forward opportunity. A few years back, his little brother was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes and spent a week-and-a-half at Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera.

He understands the subtle impact a Disney film can have on a sick child.

“I got the feel for pediatrics and I got to see how important it was,” said Machado, who also worked on last year’s teddy bear drive.

“It’s something for them to do while they’re there. When they’re down, it raises their spirits.”

DMC welcomes the partnership. Pediatrics is home to some of the hospital’s most vulnerable patients, said associate administrator Carin Sarkis, and the impact of a movie cannot be understated.

“Our goal is to make it comfortable and not so scary,” Sarkis said. “Having a playroom is having the ability to make them feel at home with their favorite movies. It’s a special place for them to go outside of their room.”

The committee is collecting G, PG and PG-13 movies, and plan to purchase 12 new DVD players with gift cards donated by Walmart. They currently have $200 in gift cards and have priced DVD players at approximately $50 apiece.

“I really hope to help the kids, especially since they’re at hospital and having a hard time,” said Calderon, a 16-year-old junior. “I really want to help them and show them that there is a positive side to life other than what they’re going through.”

The committee has attached the DVD drive to two of the biggest dates on the school’s calendar: the Sadie Hawkins Dance on March 1 and the boys and girls’ Senior Night basketball games on Feb. 8 and 11, respectively.

Those attending the Sadie Hawkins dance can receive $3 off a $10 ticket if they donate a new or gently-used DVD. A box will also be placed near the front doors at the Senior Night basketball games.

The drive may continue through the month of May, Mortensen said. An assessment will be made at the end of each month.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I have high hopes,” Machado said. “I know this can turn out good.”

Along with the DVDs and players, Ripon High will donate hundreds of books to DMC. The books have to be cleaned and tagged, Mortensen said, and won’t be used in the playroom. She hopes DMC staff will give the books to kids less fortunate.

The books come courtesy of another on-campus drive led by the senior class.

“I’m proud that there are people out there that like to help,” Calderon said. “They’re not just in it for themselves.”

Calderon says the committee asks for only one thing in return: a movie date at Doctors Medical Center.

“I hope they’ll bring us down to interact with the kids,” she said. “To see the room and see what kind of impact we’ve had.”

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