ROANOKE, Va. – One child is making the holidays brighter for those less fortunate. A local 6-year-old wants to make sure all children have a special gift on Christmas.
Alex Light, a 6-year-old in Roanoke, started the Wonder Bear Project after volunteering to donate half of his Christmas money two years ago to boys and girls who didn't receive presents.
“He was in tears when he knew that some boys and girls were not getting presents,” said his mother Missy Light.
Missy said the conversation came about after she gave Alex some Christmas money to use to buy presents. “We started talking about how some children don’t have anything for Christmas, it was a talk about gratitude. He sat in the back of the car and started crying,” Missy said.
Missy also said Alex was so touched that he wanted to spend half of his Christmas money on buying gifts for other children. They then went and bought stuffed animals with his money and gave it to Roanoke.
Two years after his realization, his charity has grown into something bigger than a one-time gesture.
Now, Alex collects hundreds of bears to donate to local charities like Ronald McDonald House, the Roanoke Rescue Mission, Carilion Children’s Hospital, the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Matthew’s Child, Total Action for Progress and Family Services of the Roanoke Valleys which distribute them to local children.
With more than a month to go, he's already collected hundreds of bears that will be given out to various local charities this Christmas.
"It's overwhelming, honestly, to be the mom of a child who really just has a big heart,” Missy said. “Because it was just so heartfelt when he said that that night.”
Last year, they collected 1,000 bears. This year, their goal is 2,500.
They are holding a Wonder Bear party Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. at Five Below in Roanoke, a business that has already committed to donating 2,000 bears to the cause.
"People, will you please donate,” Alex said.
Other drop-off locations for those wishing to participate include:
Stoke Chiropractic Clinic
217 Albemarle Ave. in Roanoke
150 Hammit Lane in Salem
1345 Towne Square Blvd. in Roanoke