Boxes and boxes of toys spill out on to Lori Simmons' classroom floor as over 30 Trenton High School students plan ways to surprise children with presents this holiday season.
Beginning in October, Simmons' biology students took time away from homework, part-time jobs and athletics to participate in Santa's Cause, which is an after-school charity project that provides toys to needy and hospitalized children.
Simmons' son, Bradley, 11, inspired students to get involved three years ago when he was just 8 years old. Bradley was diagnosed with leukemia and, while in treatment, he received a gift from a major electronics store. Touched by the act of kindness, Bradley was determined to reproduce the same kindness for other children in his position.
The following day, Simmons shared her son's brave and selfless tale with her students who also became inspired to help those in need, and soon Santa's Cause was born. Bradley is now in remission and his inspiration lives on in new students each year.
Senior Eli Jarjous, 17, became involved in Santa's Cause from the start. This year he helped organize a party where children at several area hospitals will receive new toys wrapped with care by Trenton High School students from all grade levels.
"It's just a moral thing," Jarjous said. "It's not just something you should do, it's also something you need to do."
Simmons anticipates, this year, Santa's Cause will deliver over 1,000 toys to children at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor and the Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. Leftover toys will be provided to local families in Trenton.
"There are always people needing toys during the holidays," Simmons said. "We'll, literally, get to go play Santa Claus as we drop off bags of toys at local churches."
To date, Santa's Cause distributed over 1,400 presents to local children and children at area hospitals.
Contact Lori Simmons at Trenton High School 734-692-4530 for donation information.