Now he is reaching out to other premature babies, or “preemies.”
This summer the fourth-grader began collecting aluminum cans to raise money to create gift baskets for preemies at local hospitals.
Each gift basket contain hand-knitted hats, stuffed animals from Boyds Bears, baby blankets and quilts.
Initially, John was inspired by his neighbors, Gabe O’Neill and his daughter Mary Margaret, who have a website, “KidsareHeroes.com,” dedicated to showcasing local children who make a difference in their community.
John decided that he, too, would like to help others, namely preemies and their families who are going through the same difficulties as his family did eight years ago.
After John was born, he had to remain at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital for 51 days. His parents, Paul and Terri, were only allowed to make brief visits daily.
During one of their visits, John’s parents found a yellow hat in his crib, left anonymously. Another day, they found a stuffed lamb.
After telling their son the story, he decided that he wanted to do that for someone else. Although premature birth is common, Terri believes it is often overlooked.
“People don’t talk about preemies,” she said.
When he started planning his project, John planned to make 50 baskets. However, with the response he’s gotten from the community willing to help, he may be able to make 75.
So far, John has collected about 70 pounds of aluminum cans. He has also found several people who are knitting hats and making blankets for the baskets.
Over the next year, John plans to deliver 10 baskets a month to the hospitals.
During this project, the family has learned that anyone of any age can make a difference.
“It’s not hard to do when you just try,” John said. “Anything is pretty much possible; give it a try.”‘
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