Zofia Kirshbaum

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It began with a wood box. Four simple sides with a cover.

This wasn't just any box. It was a Tzedakah box. And it belonged to 5-year-old philanthropist Zofia Kirshbaum.

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Zofia Tzedakah
UCI Nursing Program's youngest donor

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Before the Jewish Sabbath, Zofia would pass the special box around for charitable donations. Zofia’s parents, in keeping with the Jewish imperative to heal the world through good deeds, would fill it with coins and bills.

Zofia’s Tzedakah box, in many ways, embodies the values her parents have tirelessly instilled in her: compassion, the importance of family and a responsibility to help the needy.

These are the very values practiced everyday at UC Irvine Health Affairs, the recipient of Zofia’s largesse and where she and her younger sister Temma were born by emergency C-section. At UC Irvine, physicians provide compassionate care, while nurses treat patients like loved ones, alleviating their suffering with hugs, smiles and extra pillows.

So committed is Zofia to UC Irvine and its vision of nursing the sick to health that she has asked her parents, friends and other loved ones to skip birthday toys and instead to make donations on her behalf to the university.

To date, one of UC Irvine’s youngest supporters has contributed $1,800 to a nurse’s fund to purchase clothes, toys and other items for abandoned and underprivileged babies.

“She’s a wonderful role model,” said Gail Devaney, director of women’s and children’s services for nursing administration.

Breaking into a smile, Zofia says: “When I grow up, I want to be a nurse at UC Irvine and help people.”

She will fit right in.

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