TORRANCE, CALIF., Sept. 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- "Stars 4 Smiles" paid a special surprise visit to the underserved children's facility at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Tuesday, with a little help from a group of celebrities who provided a welcome distraction to the patients and their families by distributing smiles and dozens of toys.
The toys, donated by Spin Master Toys, with offices in Los Angeles, were loaded in to four Toyota sponsored wagons and carted through the three children's areas at the hospital, including the pediatric ward, the pediatric outpatient clinic, where children were receiving their chemotherapy treatments, and the hospital's playground.
"It's really important that we engage our patients in activities that will help them smile and enjoy the moment, activities that will help alleviate the stress of being in the hospital and undergoing very difficult treatments," said Melissa Hebron, director of the Child Life Services at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. "For these families, taking a break from what they are dealing with and going through is crucial and it improves healing and shortens hospital stays."
"Stars 4 Smiles" is a community service project of The Celebrity Source, a celebrity-booking agency headquartered in Los Angeles. The company announced in early September that they would host a quarterly event that would bring celebrities from film, television, music and sports to area children's hospitals and other pediatric medical facilities in Southern California.
The event is inspired by Rita Tateel, founder and president of The Celebrity Source, who spent nearly two years in the hospital as a young child due to a series illness. Tateel was traumatized from her experience as a child, and wants to ensure that "every child has a reason to smile, even when facing some of the most difficult battles."
"Bringing a smile to the face of a child, or the family of a child, suffering a serious or life-threatening illness is what 'Stars 4 Smiles' is all about," Tateel said.
And for nearly three dozen children at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, those smiles came Tuesday.
But it wasn't just the patients who were smiling, the celebrities were grinning ear-to-ear, some of them getting very emotional when talking with families and their children.
Participating in the inaugural event were "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" star Megan Fox, "Anger Management" star Brian Austin Green, Olympic Gold Medalist Carmelita Jeter, MMA fighter Tito Ortiz, Comedy Magician Eric Buss, Jackson Rathbone star of "The Twilight Saga" films, Brett Davern star of MTV's "Awkward" and Corbin Bleu of "High School Musical."
Jeter, Ortiz, Rathbone and Davern had a "Spatter" silly string fight with a group of the children, Fox and Green played 'Moustache Smash' with two young siblings, and Bleu colored and played 'Headbanz' with two little girls who couldn't stop giggling.
Executive Vice-Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Center Carol D. Berkowitz, MD, said she hasn't heard that much laughing in the playroom in a long time.
"The children we care for at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center are all stars in our eyes," Berkowitz said. "We are grateful that our pediatric patients had the chance to meet their favorite celebrities and be inspired to continue on their journey to recovery and good health."
Tateel said the inaugural "Stars 4 Smiles" event was very rewarding, and that she is already planning the second one.
"Having the opportunity to put on an event like this is so rewarding and humbling," Tateel said. "It really shows that even the smallest acts of kindness can help lift a child's spirits and I'm grateful to my celebrity friends and our sponsors Toyota and Spin Master Toys who helped me do that today."
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Source:Spin Master Ltd.