BRIGHT FUTURE: Every child at hospital on Cathedral senior’s nice list
NATCHEZ — Caroline Downer won’t be wearing a Santa hat or checking her list twice Tuesday when she visits a Jackson hospital because every child she’s visiting is on the “nice list.”
The Cathedral High School senior will visit Blair E. Baston Hospital for Children to deliver presents she’s been collecting as part of a service project through the National Honor Society.
The hospital provides treatment for more than 150,000 sick and injured children a year.
The project required students to pick something centered on education and service, and Downer said it didn’t take long for her to decide to give back to the hospital.
“I have a benign bone tumor on my hip, and I go to Jackson every six months to see an oncologist,” Downer said. “During one of my trips, I looked into Blair E. Baston and found out how involved they are with helping children with cancer.
“I thought it would be a good idea to try and help the children out and give them something to lift their sprits, since I know what they are going through.”
Downer said she was diagnosed nearly two years ago after a cheerleading competition.
“I remember having this horrible pain in my hip, so we went to a therapist at first and they wound up doing a CT scan,” Downer said. “They found the tumor, but it was benign, so I just have to go every six months to check up on it.”
After deciding she was going to give back to the children’s hospital, Downer said she made fliers asking the Green Wave faithful to drop off a variety of toys at the school and passed them out at football games.
It didn’t take long for a cardboard box sitting in the lobby of the elementary school to begin filling up with toys ranging from coloring books to dolls.
“The amount of toys I’ve gotten is incredible, and there’s been such a great response,” she said. “I’m going to do another drive in the spring.”
The hospital provides a list of guidelines for toys they can accept. All donated toys must be new, unwrapped items and cannot be religious items.
Downer said anyone still wanting to donate toys can drop them off at the Cathedral Elementary School lobby before the end of the day Friday.
After collecting the items, Downer will deliver all the toys to Jackson Tuesday and hopes she will be able to hand them out individually to the children.
“I would like to interact with them and have a chance to hand them their toy, but I’m not sure how that works, yet,” she said. “I’m really excited about just going up there and being able to provide this service for the children.”
Caroline is the daughter of Jeff and Melanie Downer of Natchez.