Fort Mill High School senior Lydia Hughes collected toys totaling $825 this past holiday season for children at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia.
Hughes, the daughter of Steve and Ellen Hughes of Fort Mill said her long time friend Cassie Krzemien, who is now a college freshman, was diagnosed with cancer at age 10 which inspired Hughes to volunteer with young cancer patients and survivors.
“We’re basically sisters who weren’t born as sisters,” Hughes said.
She wrote letters and recruited her family, friends and neighbors to help with the toy project. The children of Lake Wylie Lutheran Preschool where Ellen Hughes teaches donated more than a third of the toys. Family friends brought toys and raised funds in place of gifts during Steve Hughes’ birthday party.
Fort Mill Rescue Squad member and University of South Carolina freshman Jacob Hughes, Lydia’s brother, volunteered to drive her and the donated toys to the hospital for delivery.
Hughes said she hopes to become a pediatric nurse and plans to attend Western Carolina University in the fall. She said she is currently developing a website to help connect volunteers and donors with kids’ cancer organizations. Those interested in getting involved with the project or sharing stories for the site may email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Little kids look up to big kids, no matter what the situation is, so I’m really looking forward to being able to interact more with the kids,” she said.