With a heart to help others during the holiday season, Chris Turner set out to establish a fund-raising project that would bring smiles and cheer to the youngest patients at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital in Augusta.
"I knew I wanted to help people," said Chris, 17, who started Santa's Miracle Fund as part of his senior project at Lakeside High School. "My mom works at Walton Rehab and I asked her to help me identify someone who could benefit from this."
Chris was put in contact with Pam Witter, the executive director of the Walton Foundation for Independence. The two decided a fund-raiser for the pediatric patients at Walton Rehabilitation would help. Donations will be used for the children to enjoy a shopping spree at Toys R Us.
"We'll be helping patients from 2 months (old) to 19 years," said an enthusiastic Chris, who said his initial fund-raising goal was $2,000. "In all, we'll help about 70 patients."
With fund-raising far ahead of where it was expected to be at this point in the project, Chris said he expects the total amount raised to be closer to $5,000.
"My parents donated the first major donation," he said of Rob and Lori Turner, of Martinez. "They donated $400, and then the members of the board at Walton Rehab were also generous donors."
Lakeside senior Chris Turner has organized a fund-raiser to benefit pediatric patients at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital in Augusta. He expects to raise at least $5,000 for a shopping trip to Toys R Us.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Additionally, Chris distributed fliers at Borders Books Music and Cafe on a recent weekend. The store donated 15 percent of the purchase total for every patron who made a purchase and turned in a flier.
"We raised $344 at Borders," said Chris, adding that he is seeking a matching grant from a local business to boost the amount of money the children will be given.
"I think Chris is exceptional," Witter said. "... Do we come across a lot of young people this day and age who step forward? No."
"I want to really get to know the kids and their interests," Chris said. "I plan on meeting some of them the week after Thanksgiving. We also plan on throwing them a party after the shopping spree at Toys R Us."
Witter said Chris' determination shines brightly.
"This kid is out there doing things professional fund-raisers don't do," she said. "He's all about making this happen."
To contribute to Santa's Miracle Fund, send your tax-deductible donation to Walton Foundation, 1355 Independence Drive, Augusta, GA 30901-1037. Be sure to mark the donation to the attention of Santa's Miracle Fund.
"The first three years of high school, I was set on designing a golf course (for my senior project)," Chris said. "But then we got into the holiday season and I really wanted to do something to make a difference and leave my mark."
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