EATON —One local 12-year-old set an example for everyone this holiday season when she donated her Christmas gifts to children spending the holidays in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Madison Schmidt, a seventh grader at Eaton Middle School, approached her parents, Josh and Lori Schmidt, in late October with the idea of donating her Christmas to children in the hospital.
To the family’s’ surprise, a 12-year-old’s act of kindness would soon turn into a living room full of donated gifts to be sent to the Cincinnati’s Children Hospital before Christmas.
“I had a dream of doing it, with me and my neighbor, and then it really came true,” Madison said. “I just wanted to let children forget where they are at for five minutes and just be happy.”
According to Madison, she chose the Children’s Hospital to bring a bright spot to those less fortunate than her. “I just thought it would be nice,” she explained. “I’m healthy and they aren’t that healthy, so they might need some stuff to help them.”
She continued, “I get a lot of presents for Christmas and since I’m getting older I thought I could take my Christmas and give it to kids at the hospital.”
Madison contacted Jane Livingston at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Livingston sent her a list of guidelines for gifts the hospital is able to accept and the wish lists of those in the hospital.
Madison began making flyers and packets with a list of acceptable gifts for the hospital. She then passed those out to family and friends and received permission from Eaton Middle School Principal Derek Flatter to post flyers at school.
After she made an announcement at school her fellow students helped raise another $250 worth of toys for the drive with money raised from “Pie in the Face Day” at Eaton Middle School.
Madison explained the toy drive really took off once family and friends starting passing along the information, and soon people Madison had never met were donating to her toy drive.
Madison then braved the crowds and went shopping on Black Friday with her aunt to search for toys to purchase with the monetary donations she received.
Madison went out at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and shopped until midnight, only to wake back up and return to shopping at 4:30 a.m. on Friday in search of toys to purchase.
According to her father Josh, they had received some items but it was in early December when gifts started rolling into the Schmidt household, including toys from people they had never met before.
Donations came from all over the Miami Valley including business and churches from, Troy, Cincinnati, Dayton, Englewood, Preble County, Fairfield, Hamilton, and Northern Kentucky, according to Josh.
When asked if they had a toy count, the Schmidt’s could only laugh and Josh simply said, “There is a lot.”
“I really just want to thank everyone who donated,” Madison said.“I would thank them individually but there are so many I don’t think I could. I just think it’s fantastic because without them we wouldn’t have this big donation.”
“I was dumbfounded,” Josh said about being approached by his daughter to donate her gifts. “Not that I didn’t expect it from because that’s the type of person she is, but I was just extremely proud. I told Lori if this is something she really wants to do we are going to nurture it.”
He continued, “You struggle your whole life to hope you raise your kids right and they come to you and say something like this.”
While her father acted as the wheels and gas to pick up donated toys, it was Madison who did the majority of the work — from contacting Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, to making flyers and preparing the gifts to be taken to the hospital.
Madison also received helped from her 10-year-old sister Keirstyn, who also donated to the toy drive with some of her own presents.
While the drive does not currently have a name, Madison said she hopes it can turn into an annual event.
One thing Madison learned from her experience: “There are always great people out there — you can follow your dreams, and you don’t have to dream with your eyes closed.”
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @ aschmidt_RH.