Local child helps bring Christmas to youngsters stuck in hospital

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Hundreds of children in Central North Carolina will spend the holidays in a hospital.

One local family is helping to make sure they experience the spirit of the season.

Zach Schwab, 9, has helped collect toys from the community for children in the hospital. He said he loves to help.

“It feels better to give because you are helping them and you’re not greedy,” he said.

His family’s organization, Zach’s Toy Chest, has collected and donated about 70,000 toys to local hospitals since 2009.

“It makes me feel good,” said Holly Schwab, Zach’s mother. “It makes me feel like we’re actually filling a hole that was there.”

Zach was 9 months old when doctors discovered he had neuroblastoma. He was treated at Duke Children’s Hospital.

“We noticed in our time there at duke that it was just a lack of toys and things to do for the kids to play in the outpatient clinic, so that’s kind of where Zach’s Toy Chest started,” his mother said.

“Walking into a room and being able to bring in a toy or an art project or something that children will recognize and love, you just see a smile light up on their face,” said Nicole Queathem, a child life specialist at the hospital. “Especially at Christmastime when it’s a lot harder for families to be here and away from home, it makes it extra special and it’s very heartwarming to see.”

Zach’s mother hopes the lesson will spread.

“We think it’s very important for kids to know that you have to give back and so that the cycle keeps going and that no kid is left without something while they’re in treatment,” she said.

Zach has been cancer free for eight years. This week’s toy delivery included more than 1,500 gifts.

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