To this day, Darren Greenwood doesn't know who was responsible for the care package, but it couldn't have come at a better time.
It was 2011 and Darren's son, Joe, was about to be diagnosed with leukemia.
Joe, 17 at the time, had begun feeling ill during a family vacation and had gone to see his doctor upon their return. After looking at the results of his blood tests, the doctor told Joe and his parents they needed to go directly from their home in Ripon, outside of Modesto, to the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center.
They arrived late that evening. They were tired. They were hungry.
That's when they got the care package.
"Somebody at some time had made some kind of donation to the hospital," Darren says, "so that new leukemia patients and their families would get one." Darren says, in retrospect, it wasn't important what was in the package, just that it was there.
"It was just the coolest thing," Darren says, holding back tears, "that somebody somewhere was thinking about you."
He immediately began to think about what he could do that would similarly help others.
"I can paint. So I figured that's what I can do."
And do quite well, it turns out.
While not a professional painter, Darren has quite a bit of experience painting murals. He is responsible for painting the massive murals, featuring underwater scenes with whales and dolphins, covering three buildings at Livermore's Water Reclamation Plant where Darren works as the Assistant Director of Public Works.
It was from that job, late last year, that Darren took three weeks off to deliver on his promise to do something nice for other families at the hospital. He also wanted to say thank you to the doctors and nurses who had cared for Joe, who was now nearing the end of his cancer treatments.
Darren spent 18 hours a day over those three weeks creating a 20-foot mural covering one entire wall, and the ceiling, of the family waiting area of the hospital's pediatric wing. The underwater scene, this one filled with tropical fish and coral formations, is meant to provide a pleasant distraction for families, particularly those with little children, dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
"If there was some way to take someone's mind off of that," Darren says, "that's worth a lot."