This past week, students donated toys to be given to The Children’s Hospital of Michigan in honor of Jake Pennar, a Monteith Elementary student, who lost his battle with cancer. The toy drive was hosted by the Student Association, spanning from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3. Over that course of time, Norsemen contributed hundreds of toys for the drive.
“North students and staff donated over 500 toys, crafts, games and puzzles,” student activities director Peggy Bonbrisco said. “The drop box had to be emptied hourly because it was constantly overflowing.”
As Bonbrisco was watching students drop off all kinds of different things, from puzzles and games to model airplanes and race cars, she was able to envision the impact the students were making.
“As students began to bring in their donation of toys on our first day back to face to face school, I think it helped give us purpose to work together for a great cause. Something that we haven’t been able to do for a while with the pandemic keeping us apart,” Bonbrisco said.
During the pandemic, North students have been away from one another for almost ten months, but they all came together to support a common cause. SA public relations officer Lauren Huizdos was part of the toy drive. For her, it was heartwarming to see students coming together, despite being apart for so long.
“It was so awesome watching North and the community come together to support a common cause,” Huizdos said. “It felt great being able to support others during a not so great time.”
According to member of the SA fundraising committee sophomore Paige Spence, these toys will brighten up so many days and allow children to feel excitement during their stay at the hospital.
“This toy drive means that kids in the children’s hospital will have a little piece of normalcy with the ability to play with toys like they do at home,” Spence said. “This toy drive honored Jake by providing toys for kids just like him who are fighting every day.”
As Spence was dropping off toys and viewing the bin full of them, she could picture the smiles that would be painted across children’s faces as they saw the brand new gifts they were receiving.
“It makes me feel so much joy thinking that we impacted these amazing kids’ lives even in the smallest ways,” Spence said.
Bonbrisco has seen Norsemen support other causes, and accomplish many things, but for her the toy drive felt different. Seeing the mounds of colorful toys that would soon arrive in the arms of children staying in hospitals was an accomplishment to be proud of.
“Norsemen make me proud over and over again, but the success of Jake’s Toy Drive will always have a special place in my heart,” Bonbrisco said.