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4-year-olds lead

Tzedakah project benefiting UCLA hospital

by Ryan Torok

June 7, 2011 | 5:57 pm

A preschool class at Wilshire Boulevard Temple has helped raise more than $3,000 for Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, inspired by a successful heart surgery for one of the students’ siblings.

When 9-month-old Matthew Stevelman was just 10 days old, he underwent heart surgery because his two main arteries were in the wrong position and didn’t allow for enough oxygen in his blood.

Surgeons at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA cut Matthew’s arteries and reattached them in the correct position. “Other than his scar, you would never know he had the operation,” Seth Stevelman, Matthew’s father, said. Last March, Matthew’s sister, Chloe, a 4-year-old preschooler at the Mann Early Childhood Center of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, proposed raising money for the hospital that treated her brother.

Chloe, along with her 18 classmates, dug through piggy banks and, with the help of their teacher, asked their parents and other family members for contributions. The fundraising took them approximately three weeks.

In total, the students raised $1,032.20; Matthew and Chloe’s parents, Seth and Jennifer Stevelman, announced that they will match that sum, and Dr. Tamara Horowich, a UCLA cardiologist who is also a Wilshire Boulevard Temple parent, will match the children’s donation, too.

The money will purchase books and games for Mattel Children’s Hospital’s pediatric patients and their siblings. The hospital offers primary and specialized care for infants, children and adolescents.

The donation will affect “thousands” of children, said Dr. Mark Sklansky, chief of pediatric cardiology at Mattel Children’s Hospital. Sklansky, along with Chloe’s preschool class and her parents, was present at a donation ceremony, held June 6.

Eliza Enbom and Joanne Wolmarans, Chloe’s teachers, have been teaching their students about the importance of mitzvot all year.

“We were in tears,” Enbom said. “It’s amazing that a 4-year-old could come up with this idea on her own. A 4—year-old.”

At the ceremony, Chloe pushed a small shopping cart filled with bags of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies, and bundles of cash to where Sklansky and Vicky Campbell, a nurse practitioner at Mattel Children’s Hospital, sat with the students. Meanwhile, Seth Stevelman stood off to the side, cradling the happy and healthy-looking Matthew in his arms.

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