Local students, super heroes, deliver gifts to sick kids
By CHRISTOPHER SMITH
This week, a group of Talented and Gifted (TAG) students from Andalusia Elementary School completed a project that they had been working on for two years.
The students worked with the University of South Alabama chapter of Kappa Alpha fraternity from the University of South Alabama to collect donations and gifts, all stuffed into stockings, provided by the KAs, to give to the pediatric units at the USA Children’s Hospital in Mobile, and to Andalusia Health. They also stopped at the Ronald McDonald house to give kids stockings.
Cape Merrell and Katie Kennedy were attending a youth group at their church and had the idea for the project after hearing about different missionaries spending their time over seas preaching the gospel during the holidays.
“It kind of hit a nerve with me when I heard that, and then I started thinking about how many sick kids that are in hospitals during the holidays and don’t get to spend Christmas at home,” Merrell said.
It took two years to bring the idea to fruition. Once they told their teacher, Barbara Peek, about the idea, everything started rolling.
They figured out how to pick out the gifts by calling the hospitals that they were going to and asking what the kids wanted and by asking the community for donations.
Both the effort and the long wait were worth it.
“It felt pretty great to see the kids’ reactions when we gave them their stockings, because even though they were really sick they still tried their hardest to show appreciation and joy,” Kennedy said.
Andalusia natives Ian and Adam Peek and Colton and Ashton Elmore are members of USA’s Kappa Alpha chapter. The fraterniy donated all of the stockings and helped deliver them to the children’s hospital in Mobile.
“We really couldn’t have done it without them,” Barbara Peek said. “Those boys were a tremendous help.”
In total, they had 132 stockings. They donated around 100 to the USA Children’s Hospital and around 20 to Andalusia Health.
While they gave the stockings to Andalusia Health they were able to get a tour of the facility and give each stocking to every pediatric patient in the hospital.
Bobbie Meyer, the senior support services director at Andalusia Health, said she was very impressed with the group.
“I think this was such a great idea and think it is amazing that such young kids already have a mindset to help the community,” she said. “We cannot thank them enough!”