Every family has it's own holiday traditions and for the last three years. Heather and Geoff Lux have been sharing their newest one with anyone who wants to join in.
Their son Austin, who is nearly 3, was diagnosed with stage four nueroblastoma when he was less than 4 months old. He spent four months at the Blume Clinic in Charlotte for chemo therapy. Last May, he passed his one year in remission mark, and will continue to head back to Blume for screenings until he is 5.
"To show our appreciation and to help the other children in their care, we organized the first Friends of Austin Toy Drive (in 2006)," Heather Lux said. "Each child receives at least one Christmas gift, and they also use them throughout the year for end of chemo parties and for birthday parties."
Lux is collecting new unwrapped toys at her store Polka Dots on Market Street in Baxter through Saturday, Dec. 20. She uses the angel tree concept, supplying paper ornaments with gift suggestions and information about the Blume Clinic. She's asking for gifts that will help occupy a child's time while he or she is bound to an IV for several hours during chemo therapy treatments. Handheld video games, books, DVDs, video games for current console systems like the X-Box 360 and other items are suggested.
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If anyone misses the Christmas deadline, Lux will continue to collect gifts through the end of the year because the clinic uses the gifts all year long, she said.
The clinic treats children as old as 18, and the older children need something to occupy their time too, she said.
"It's so much fun to buy stuff for the little kids," she said. "Gifts for older kids are good too."
Last year, the toy drive brought in more than 450 gifts. That was up from the more than 300 collected the first year.
"This year we hope it will be our best year yet," Lux said. "We've been so fortunate to be so supported by the Fort Mill community. It makes spending Christmas in the hospital a little more bearable," she said.