Christmas comes early for kids with cancer thanks to Olivia’s Foundation

December 23, 2014 Meaghan McGoldrick
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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for children with pediatric cancer, thanks once again to the Olivia Boccuzzi Foundation and Saint Bernadette School.

“The response is always amazing,” lauded Enza Boccuzzi, who founded the Olivia Boccuzzi Foundation with her husband Frank in November of 2012 – just three months after their nearly-three-year-old daughter Olivia lost an 11-month battle with a PNET brainstem tumor. “It’s really, really beautiful. It’s almost like she’s here.”

The toy collection – now in its third year – is always bittersweet, said Enza.

“Presents don’t cure cancer but it’ll help them get through the day,” she said, her heart heavy, but full. “It’s nice to see Olivia’s memory and spirit live on in such a positive way.”

Her husband agreed.

“It gets bigger and bigger each year, it’s crazy,” Frank said as he helped their seven-year-old son, James separate toys into piles before moving on to the heavy lifting.

Principal Joan DiRienzo joined students of all ages as they helped the Boccuzzis sort and label packages with upperclassmen loading up the truck, borrowed from a family-friend, on one of the coldest days of the year so far.

“I think it’s an amazing way for all of us to support not only the Boccuzzi family but to support the children who are battling cancer,” said DiReienzo, whose students were more than happy to help.

“I think it’s a great cause because a lot of kids in cancer centers don’t get any toys this time of year,” said eighth-grader Kristina.

“It’s also good for parents who don’t have the money to spend because they’re spending so much money on medications,” her classmate Vincent agreed.

This year’s toys made their way to eight local hospitals and cancer centers including Maimonides Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering and New York Presbyterian.

“The holidays are hard, but things like this make it a little bit easier,” said Enza. “She’s making a difference in so many children’s lives today.”

“This is what the holidays are all about,” said Saint Bernadette’s Advancement Director Maria Ljubich.

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