BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — When Jennifer Mitchell’s 4-year-old son died of leukemia, she couldn’t imagine ever buying toys again.
But as his July 31 birthday approached, she had a change of heart and decided to do something for other children suffering from life-threatening illnesses by starting a toy drive in his memory.
“I just kind of got with my friends and family and asked them to buy a toy like they’d buy for Seth,” Mitchell said.
The effort has grown and the third annual Remembrance Toy Drive in Memory of Seth Mitchell is now under way. Toys will be delivered Aug. 3 to patients at children’s hospitals in Jacksonville, including Nemours Children’s Clinic and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
It’s the way Mitchell is able to commemorate her son’s birthday and keep his memory alive.
“He would be turning 9 (years old) this year. Getting the toys and being able to take them to children who are fighting cancer today, it doesn’t lessen the hurt, but it brings kind of a happiness to give to other children,” she said. “Seth many times was in the hospital and somebody randomly just coming by and bringing him a toy like a truck or a stuffed animal just made his day.”
The toy drive that began three years ago has morphed into something larger.
When Mitchell’s friend, Robby Strayer, heard of Seth’s story he became involved and is now organizing a nonprofit organization in his memory, called the Seth Wish Foundation.
A Seth Mitchell Memorial Softball Tournament was held recently and raised around $3,500 that will be used for the toy drive and a scholarship fund for students who have conquered childhood cancer, Strayer said.
Although Strayer never met Seth, he is passionate about bringing a sense of joy to children battling life-threatening illnesses.
“It just seemed like something that needed to be done, because the kids who are in the hospitals are receiving chemotherapy and are going through all of this treatment,” Strayer said.
“For them to know that somebody is actually thinking about them and cares about them … when you walk in with a toy, their face lights up.”
Other events are being planned, like a golf tournament to benefit the Seth Wish Foundation, which is currently seeking federal tax-exempt status.
Last year, about 100 toys were delivered to children through the toy drive that has continued to grow. Mitchell hopes to see this year become an even larger success.
“(The response) warms my heart, because I want Seth’s memory to go on as long as possible,” Mitchell said.
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