Woodburn teen launches state-wide Starbucks toy drive


Local barista pays it forward with Henry's Gift Toy Drive

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Woodburn teen is bringing smiles to kids experiencing childhood cancer and paying it forward in a big way.

Henry Hernandez 19, who is a barista at an area Starbucks, teamed up with company leadership to launch a state-wide toy drive, benefiting OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and local Make-A-Wish kids.

Hernandez’s mission to pay it forward and spread joy was motivated by his own experience staying on the oncology floor of OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

“I was given a plush teddy bear from a nurse. And at the time I felt very heavy, emotional, and upset to be there,” explained Hernandez. “But when I was given this bear it brought me so much joy and happiness, even for that moment. I remember being inspired by that and wanting to bring that feeling to other kids.”

His treatment was successful. Hernandez told KOIN 6 News he worked to save $200 of “birthday money” to personally purchase toys for the local children’s hospital when the Make-A-Wish Oregon opportunity arose.

Henry’s Gift Toy Drive. Henry Hernandez at Woodburn Oregon Starbucks. (Courtesy: Make-A-Wish Oregon)

“I have everything I could ever ask for. I’m healthy, I’m here, I have a beautiful family and that’s all I need,” stated Hernandez. “I told them the only thing I could want is to bring the feeling I got when I received a plush toy to other kids. And Make-A-Wish made that possible.”

In 2019, Hernandez’s wishful giving became a reality after he paired up with Make-A-Wish Oregon and Disney to make a significant donation of toys delivered to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

Hernandez is continuing his mission to give back by launching Henry’s Gift Toy Drive to support local wish kids and children staying at Doernbecher’s Hospital.

Henry’s Gift Toy Drive through Starbucks

“I was shocked when I heard that (Starbucks) stores across Oregon were participating. We even heard of a couple Washington stores want to help, too,” said Hernandez. “I’m so excited because more toys means more smiles! And I have a feeling in my heart that this is just the beginning of something much greater.”

Henry’s Gift Toy Drive is accepting donations online and at all Oregon Starbucks locations through October 31. Those wishing to support his mission can give directly at a local Starbucks donation bin or online.

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