Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 20 November 2012 15:45
As the Christmas season approaches, ideas for giving can come in many forms, but a freshman at Hillsboro High School, plans to give hospitalized children a special surprise.
Lillian Benda, 14, said she knows firsthand what it’s like to be in the hospital and how difficult it can be.
Diagnosed with epilepsy last summer, Benda said she spent a week at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
After checking with hospital officials, the administration was agreeable to her idea.
“For 14 years, I have gotten my special Christmas, but some children may not get their special Christmas,” she said.
Thus far, Benda said she has spent about $62 from her Christmas fund to buy toys.
In addition to money, she said she has devoted many hours to making flyers and distributing them to fellow students and others in town.
“I made a box located in the HHS office so students can drop off toys,” she said.
Principal Max Heinrichs, who approved the flyers and boxes, said he sees this as a chance to reach out and help other kids.
“Lilly is very excited about it,” he said.
Ideas and goals
Benda said she started thinking about doing the toy drive about three months ago and set a goal of filling a van with toys.
“Go big or go home,” she said about the goal.
“I told my mom what I thought would be really cool for Christmas is if I gave it to some kids in the hospital,” she said.
Benda said she started putting her plan into action last week. She said she plans to use her Christmas fund to go shopping for sale items after Thanksgiving.
Even though she has just started to spread the word, Benda knows she has her work cut out for her. So far, she has one tub almost filled with toys she has purchased or from donations from the library’s book sale.
“I’ve gotten a little bit of everything so far, from little booties to high school age gifts,” she said.
Benda said notebooks are a great gift for writing a diary, and arts and crafts are a good way to pass the time.
Depending on why someone is in the hospital, she said, movies are a good way to help children pass the time.
“Most of the time I was sleep deprived because with epilepsy the brain does odd things when someone doesn’t get enough sleep,” she said.
Sleep deprivation helps in the diagnosis.
Benda said she doesn’t want any money.
“We need new toys to avoid any bacteria that could be on them,” she said, “It can be anything from little baby rattles and books to My Little Ponies and action figures, but no weapons.”
The toys cannot be wrapped.
The deadline to bring toys to Hillsboro High School is Friday, Dec. 14.
The following day, Benda said her mother will drive her and a friend to Children’s Mercy Hospital to deliver the toys to the front desk.
“I may not get to see the smiles on their faces,” she said, “but it’s possible I might be able to read Christmas stories to the littler children.”
A lot depends on which department a child is in.
Benda said she is getting help from the school club called GAP.
She said her plan is for the hospital staff to make sure the children get their presents Christmas morning.
“I may not be getting anything for Christmas, but the kids are,” she said.
The public is invited to donate to Benda’s cause. For more information, call the high school at 620-947-3991.