Maryssa's Mission donating toys and bringing joy to hospitalized children during holiday season

BEREA, OH (WOIO) - It's been two years since Maryssa Rivas, a twin daughter born to Mitchell and Mindy Rivas, passed away.

She and her sister were born eleven weeks prematurely.

After her birth, her parents spent countless days and nights in hospitals from Cleveland to Cincinnati, hoping their little girl would get better.

"It's very consuming and it's very lonely, and you're just in a very quiet space, almost cut off from reality," said Mindy Rivas.

While Maryssa died in 2015 following a heart procedure, her parents want to be sure her legacy lives on.

They started a foundation in her honor, and called it "Maryssa's Mission."

The foundation helps families just like the Rivases, people who spend long hours in hospitals, caring for their sick children, hoping for a miracle.

In that time, though, the Rivas family learned there are practical, tangible steps they could take to help those people.

"Give them necessities," said Mitchell Rivas. "Give them a meal, help them out with parking. To know that somebody cares means the world to them when you feel isolated, alone."

For the past two years, they've been making meals, covering parking costs, and providing hotels for families around the state.

Last year, they held their first annual toy drive, collecting Christmas presents for children in Ohio hospitals.

This year, the Berea Police Department is stepping up to help, volunteering as a drop-off location and helping to collect toys for the families.

"Berea in general, it's a very tight-knit community, a lot of great people, and I know that once we get the word out here, this is going to be something that everybody is gonna want to help with," said Patrolman Charles Gute.

As for Mitchell and Mindy, Maryssa's Mission is a way to keep their own daughter's memory alive.

"To just spread her name," said Mindy Rivas. "Her face is on all our literature, and just to have strangers come up to me and say: 'Oh, you're Ryssa's mom.'"

You can drop off toy donations at the Berea Police Department, Barber's Den and Shave Shop, Orthowest Ltd. Medical Office, Medina Collision Center, Towne Auto Sales at N. Court Street in Medina, and House of Silva Jewelers in Wooster.

The last day for donations is December 9th, at a Breakfast with Santa Fundraiser.

You can find more information about that event and Maryssa's Mission at http://maryssasmission.org.

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