Parents who lost son in zoo tragedy hand out toys to children dealing with loss

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PITTSBURGH —

The Derkosh family, coping with tragedy, is giving back this holiday season.

Elizabeth and Jason Derkosh’s 2-year-old son, Maddox, was killed last year after falling into the African painted dogs exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

On Friday, the parents handed out their son’s favorite toy, trucks, at the 14th annual Tree of Hope Christmas celebration at the Eastminster Presbyterian Church.

Adrianne Young of Tree of Hope explained the organization.

“These are children whose parents and family members are murdered in the streets,” said Young.

Young was appreciative for the Derkoshs’ help.

“I don’t know how they’re doing it.  It’s only by the grace of God.  They’re very special people,” said Young.

The Derkosh family didn’t want to be interviewed by Channel 11.  Their kind actions did the talking.  They handed out trucks to children who have experienced great loss, including Pam Freeman’s son who lost his grandmother two years ago.

“My kids enjoy it.  They really do.  It’s touching because it’s hard to get things for them,” said Freeman.

“Nineteen years ago today my son was murdered, so every year I do this.  It’s therapeutic,” said Young.

This marks the 14th year of the event.

Organizers moved it to a bigger church because of its popularity.