Like Santa loading up his sleigh, four Indian Land Middle School students spent a day last week loading up two cars full of toys, toiletries and craft supplies bound for Levine Children's Hospital.
When they arrived at the hospital, eighth graders Abby Hancock, Brantley Smith, Alexis Little and Lindsay Johnson filled a rolling cart full of toys and took the from room-to-room, surprising patients with a special treat.
"It was so touching to bring a smile to their face," Little said.
Only four students were able to visit the hospital, but they represented dozens of students from Kim Tallent's leadership classes that worked throughout November raising donations for the hospital as part of a service learning project.
"The students really took the initiative on this," Tallent said.
The leadership class encouraged their peers to donate items for the Levine Children's Hospital by designing posters to display throughout the school. They also wrote and read announcements over the school's loud speaker, reminding the student body of the importance of donating to the children and families at the hospital.
Rachel Hunt, a seventh grader, designed flyers on her home computer which she distributed to mail boxes around her neighborhood. She was rewarded with a box full of donations, which she proudly contributed to the growing pile of gifts.
The students asked for toy donations, but they also requested toiletries after they learned that many of the parents at the hospital are there unexpectedly. Toiletries are a luxury that some of them have left behind at home.
All of the parents and patients the students encountered were appreciative, they said, but a 4-year-old recovering from surgery on her throat stood out from the rest of the patients. She hadn't spoken since the surgery, but after receiving a Barbie doll from the students, she uttered her first words.
"Thank you," she said.
"It was touching, but also inspirational," said Smith. "It shows you how if you give one thing it can really change someone's life."
Tallent's students hope to continue working with the Levine Children's Hospital, possibly raising donations for a project in the spring.
Each of the four students who visited the hospital says, emphatically, that they hope to return with more toys and treats.
"It makes you remember that you're so lucky," said Johnson.