Roanoke first-grader wins Red Cross hero award

We kick off our 2018 Celebration of Heroes, where WSLS 10 and the Red Cross recognize those who make a difference in our community.

We start with our youngest recipient, who is the 2018 Community Impact Hero.

What began as a question for the 7-year-old has turned into a Christmas campaign.

As an only child, Alex Light is pretty good at entertaining himself.

He's also good at sharing.

“I give teddy bears to kids that don't have anything, like, at Carilion Kid's Hospital and I've given to the Ronald McDonald House, Rescue Mission; all of that kind of stuff,” Alex said.   

The first-grader has become an expert in collecting and giving teddy bears to kids at Christmas.

His mom, Missy Light, says it all started with a lesson about being grateful for what we have, and like a typical child he follow up with, “Why?”

“I explained to him that some children won't get Christmas. He was so sad,” Missy explained. “He said why and I explained to him that not everybody has money for presents."

They took $20 he got from his aunt and went to the store.

“My mom told me that some kids weren't going to get Christmas this year and I used half of my Christmas money to buy teddy bears,” Alex said.

That was two years ago and since then, he's grown what's been named The Wonder Bear Project to more than 3,000 donated stuffed animals.

“I just thought kids would be happy with teddy bears,” Alex said.      

Alex describes seeing other kids' faces as they received their gifts.

“We thought, well, it's teddy bear, you know, and it seemed like it was a good thing, but we didn't know how many people would be like 'oh wow,' because it's just a little tiny bit of happiness that you can give that can change somebody's whole Christmas. It's the spirit of it, it's not necessarily the impact of the gift itself,” said Missy.

While it's a small gift, it's coming from a big heart.

“I would like to just make kids happy.”

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