On June 20, 2012, Holly Springs resident Jesse Kool, 12, wrapped up his seventh annual birthday toy drive for Duke Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. With the help of friends, local businesses, family, and the Infinity Ballet Conservatory & Theatre of Apex, Jesse presented 468 toys to the staff at Duke to be given to sick children who visit the hospital.
Jesse began collecting toys for the hospital after visiting the hospital several years ago.
“He began doing this (collecting toys) after his Mom was sick and he had to attend a lot of medical appointments with her,” a statement about Kook said. “The nurses always took care of him and his sister and would share a toy with them to help comfort them while their Mom was facing treatments and testing. He found out why the nurses try to keep these toys around and he was hooked! He wanted to do something to help kids feel better who were sick.”
Although Jesse usually has a stash of toys he collects throughout the year, he used the money received for his birthday in April to purchase more toys and ended the toy drive on June 9 with a performance with the Infinity Ballet.
“Jesse’s toy collection ended after Infinity Ballet’s 10th Anniversary Performance at which guests were invited to drop toys at a special table set up for the cause. Ballet dancers from Infinity Ballet collected at the conservatory during the weeks before the final event.”
Jesse performs with the Infinity Ballet Conservatory’s non-program group called the Infinity Ballet Theatre. Jesse’s sister is involved in the pre-professional ballet training program with Infinity Ballet Conservatory.
According to the statement from the Kool family, the Ballet Conservatory has touched the lives of several members of the community.
“The Conservatory has not only worked to invest in Jesse and Anna Marie’s lives and education; but they reach out to any child who would like to learn in many different ways,” the statement said. “They took part in helping to raise over $20,000 for a child in need of a heart transplant by encouraging and supporting their dancers who wanted to make a difference. Infinity Ballet went above and beyond in this situation as it has provided lessons in dance now to this child as she is healing from a successful heart transplant, with a purpose of encouraging her in her journey of healing!”
Jesse is excited about the collection of over 400 toys and has already established a toy closet so that he can begin his collection for next year.
“We are very pleased with the amount we collected. Jesse has carried thousands of toys to Duke over the years. A one-time delivery of this size is a major accomplishment and an annual time of celebration. Most importantly, it is our opportunity to publicize the need and get support for this important project annually. Infinity Ballet families were incredibly helpful and supportive this year and he had some of the nicest toys ever donated. Jesse was so excited and honored to share what had been collected.”
For those interested in donating Jesse’s cause, he collects toys year round and he will make multiple trips to the hospital throughout the year if necessary.
“Groups such as daycare centers, church youth groups, schools and the girl scouts have participated and collected for his cause in the past. He and his sister have gotten hundreds of children involved over the years. Anyone can collect and deliver their collections to Jesse if they want to be a part of this important mission.”
For those interested in donating items can e-mail Jesse for more information.
“Jesse’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org,” Kool said. “Anyone interested in collecting for his cause at anytime throughout the year can email him personally and he will send them information and work out the details of receiving their donations. If store owners and store managers can help him get the most for his money, it is greatly appreciated! He has developed relationships with store managers in the past so that he was called on to pick up items they needed to get rid of to clear out of the store. Jesse and his sister and Mom served as a perfect delivery option. They collected the toys for Duke and then delivered other items to various charities throughout their community, ensuring new items didn’t go to waste or get thrown away and that charities gained access to much needed supplies.”
However, toys are not the only items the Kool family has delivered to needy families.
“They have delivered thousands of school supplies to low income community schools and thousands of supplies to Give2theTroops in Greenville, NC as a result of this work.”