Fourteen-year old Sydney McCurry can always use a new teddy bear.
Her newest one, Baxter, came from a group of teenagers from York Comprehensive High School, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Sydney does not attend high school because of lifelong health problems that have kept her in hospitals since she was 4 months old. The Columbia resident is receiving treatment for internal stomach problems in Charlotte while her mother, Nancy, and grandmother stay with her at the Ronald McDonald House.
“It’s nice to get a little surprise,” Nancy McCurry said.
The student council at York raised nearly $5,000 in two months to donate Build-A-Bear stuffed animals to sick children, junior Aisha Ozog said, through the council’s Build-A-Heart fundraiser. That was enough to make roughly 450 furry friends.
The students hand-delivered the bears to Charlotte that they made early Sunday at the store.
“I like it and that’s pretty much all I can say,” said a smiling Sydney, adding she has so many stuffed animals on her bed that she can’t fit when it’s time to sleep. “It’s covered in them.”
The York students had no particular method of raising the money, Principal Christopher Black said, other than asking each other, parents, family and members of the community for donations.
The students raised enough money to donate bears to two hospitals – Levine and Novant Health Hemby children’s hospitals – and the Ronald McDonald House.
“It felt really great and rewarding ... to see the smile on that girl’s face,” said Ozog, whose best friend Lilli Beard died in 2015 after a battle with cancer.
The students named the stuffed animals after people who have left an impact, Black said.
Ozog named Sydney’s stuffed animal after Lilli’s dog Baxter, which gave her comfort while she was sick, Ozog said.
Abbey Baker, 17, said she named two of the stuffed animals after her grandmothers Noell and Nancy.
“It’s a way to do something for them when they are going through a really hard time,” Baker said.
York’s student body president, Chloe Carroll, said the project was a way to leave a positive impact on the community.
“It just makes my heart feel so happy,” Carroll said.
Tracy Kimball: email@example.com