Ten year old Willow Herrera could teach us all a thing or two about the true meaning of Christmas. And, her spirit of giving has had a far-reaching affect on many!
A fifth grade student at Charleston Middle School, Herrera has made an impact on the lives of others, including her teachers, peers, and those less fortunate. Her parents, Amy and Diego, and grandparents, Jake and Pauline Stahl, and Nohemi Herrera, are very proud.
“Every year Willow saves her money from her birthday, allowance, and the occasional tooth fairy money, to donate to Toys for Tots,” explained Herrera’s mom. “Seeing how hard this year has been on everyone, she decided she wanted to help spread joy in the hospital by raising money for Christmas gifts to donate.”
The youngster knows all to well the feeling of being hospitalized, away from home, and in a strange place. “…She received gifts one year that were donated by a local baseball team,” her mom added. “She talked about that moment for many years after that and it has really stuck with her.”
According to her mom, Herrera learned how to make jams and jellies a few years ago at a 4-H camp in Ozark. She used that skill to fund this year’s mission. Herrera has made a variety of jams and jellies including blackberry, blueberry, red and purple plum, jalapeño, and most recently, watermelon—which happens to be her personal favorite!
Charleston teacher Tricia Hassell shared how proud she was of her former student for working all summer to sell her sweet spreads. “She finally reached her goal. I am super proud of her!”
Herrera hopes to have enough toys purchased to donate to two hospitals, Arkansas Children’s Northwest hospital and the hospital where she was treated as a child, Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. Herrera will be able to deliver the toys in person, but she will not be able to help distribute them due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The toys will be delivered to the two hospitals the first week of December.
“She has a very loving nature and giving heart,” her mom shared. “Her generosity astounds me, especially since she is only 10. It is so hard for her father and I to even describe how we feel because nothing seems good enough to describe it! She makes us want to be better people, and to share joy with everyone around us. She radiates love and goodness and as parents, that’s all we could have ever hoped for!”
Herrera’s family extended their gratitude towards Leann Steffey-Ellison, owner of Steffey’s Pizza in Lavaca, for helping to sell the Jelly and for taking donations. Also, to Hassell for her encouragement of the ongoing project. Herrera’s mom concluded:“…Our community, family and friends have really stepped up and helped Willow reach for the stars!”