Like many other school groups this holiday season, the Lynbrook South Middle School Student Council is sponsoring a toy drive. But unlike other school groups, these students have a special connection to Raymond Mohler, Jr., the founder of the Little St. Nick Foundation, an organization that provides hospitals with toys, DVDs and other items to help bring cheer to children to cope with their pain. Mohler visited the school on Nov. 22 to help them kick off their drive with his inspiring story.
Mohler, who is a South Middle alumnus, founded the organization after experiencing his own medical challenges when he was diagnosed with a rare hip disease that required long hospital stays. After being discharged from the hospital, he was touched by the plight of the other children who were not well enough to go home. That year, he decided to donate half of his unwrapped holiday toys to the kids he left behind.
From that first act of charity, the Little St. Nick Foundation was born. Over the years, the organization has donated more than 500,000 toys, entertainment centers, electronics and other gifts to various hospitals. The organization also arranges for sports figures to visit young patients and grants wishes for children who are sick.
"When I was younger I was in the hospital, so I know how much it helps to have toys and games to keep you busy," said student council representative John Kelhetter. "Raymond really inspired us to think about ways we can help others."