NEWTON GROVE — While going through a large tub filled with gifts, a large Transformers toy caught Zayden Atkinson’s attention. With glee, he also noticed a colorful blanket in the mix.
“I guess someone will be warm this Christmas too,” Zayden said.
For about three weeks, Zayden, a fourth-grader at Hobbton Elementary School, has been collecting gifts and toys to help less fortunate children in Sampson County.
“It makes me feel sad that some children are not going to have Christmas gifts,” Zayden said.
Along with other nearby locations, people may stop by Hobbton Elementary School, 12361 Hobbton Highway to add to the large tub located in the school’s hallway. The toy drive will continue through Dec. 14.
He’s being assisted by a team of fellow students, his teacher Brent Rivenbark and Electrolyte Depletion, a charity cycling group.
Rivenbark said the idea originated when the school began its first student council. A part of that initiative was creating a bulletin board in his room about community service and doing great things. Zayden wanted to do his part by starting a toy drive. Rivenbark was happy to help him along the way with the assistance of his teammates from Electrolyte Depletion.
“It’s not often that you get a fourth-grader that’s motivated to do community service,” Rivenbark said.
Principal Dawn Wilkes said it was wonderful that Zayden came up with the idea to help local children.
“I think as a community, we all need to come together and help any way we can,” Wilkes said. “Every child deserves a toy, stocking or whatever it may be. Every child deserves to be happy and have some kind of gift.”
Rivenbark said it’s a beautiful thing to see children like the fourth-grader take initiative.
“He’s got a great big heart,” he said. “A lot of adults and other students should take notice. We all can do more and Zayden is leading by example. I’m proud of him. I’m super excited to be a part of it.”
Zayden is the son of Sherrillan and Derrick Atkinson. When he’s not in school or studying, he enjoys playing with Batman and Superman action figures. On Christmas morning, he hopes other children can do the same. He reflected on watching television and seeing children his age, in unfortunate situations in homes.
“Some of them are even in hospitals,” Zayden said. “They just need joy in their lives. That’s why I want to do all of this.”
After the toys are collected, they will be distributed to needy families selected with the assistance of the school’s guidance counselor and local churches.
Additional Toy drop boxes are located at the Newton Grove Drug Store, located near the town’ circle and Zayden’s church Bentonville Disciples of Christ Church, 8566 Devils Racetrack Road, Four Oaks. Donated toys should be age appropriate for elementary students. For more information email Rivenbark at email@example.com or visit www.electrolytedepletion.com for updates and additional details.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.