As the calendar approaches the New Year, the hustle and bustle of people making party plans and sketching out their New Year’s resolutions reaches a record-breaking level. Shopping malls can’t open their doors soon enough, and grocery stores can’t stock ingredients in time to counteract the frantic masses of people buying and preparing everything they need to make their holiday season perfect.
However, the hectic, festive craze means something different for 10-yearold Kora Schroeder. For Kora, this time of the year calls for a much slower pace, a time to reflect on the needs of others rather than her own wants for 2017.
After studying childhood cancer as a health credit for her homeschooling program, Kora began collecting toys and monetary donations to give to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and on December 15, Kora had the opportunity to travel to the children’s hospital in Memphis, Tennessee to personally deliver her donations. (Kora chose Memphis,Tennessee’s hospital because St. Jude’s Atlanta campus only accepts monetary donations.) When Kora was asked to choose one word that best described her experience, she chose “fun”. Despite the roughly seven-hour car drive to and from Memphis, Kora said that she enjoyed spending time with her family. Kora’s parents and little sister, Mia, all made the trip. “We [made] our picture with the Mississippi,” she said.
But what impacted Kora the most was the time she spent at St. Jude. “I saw some of the kids getting off the bus. I saw a bunch of them wearing hats, and they didn’t have hair,” she described. Even though seeing those children made Kora feel sad, she said that she was “happy for them” because of the toys they were about to receive.
What Kora didn’t know was that she, too, was going to receive a toy when she arrived at St. Jude. After a patient had recently passed away, a teddy bear drive was held outside the hospital in the child’s honor, and the workers there wanted to present Kora and Mia with a teddy bear for all of their hard work and dedication to the children of St. Jude.
Though Kora couldn’t give the toys directly to the children, due to health and safety risks, she knows that she would like to continue helping the patients at St. Jude. “I’m going to have to do some planning,” said Kora.
Along with preparing new ideas for her next St. Jude mission project, Kora also wants to give some advice to children her age who would like to give back to others: “You have to be thoughtful and kind to the other people, just really think about how poor those kids feel, and get the courage to do it. It’s what you really have to do.”
No matter the age, no matter the time of year, may we all take Kora’s message to heart by slowing down and finding ways that we can touch the lives of others who are in need.
Peyton Hanners Staff Writer