When I heard that Cassandra Nelson’s son, Timmy, had been diagnosed with cancer, I knew we needed to help this OUC early childhood education student. I started the discussion in my classes about what we could do to help the family. We decided on gift cards for gas and groceries. Then that very night, I thought about Timmy not being able to attend his kindergarten classroom’s first valentine party. Valentine parties are so exciting for young children with receiving Valentine's cards but also making the boxes and eating the decorated cookies and cupcakes. So it was decided we would do a Valentine drive for Timmy with hopes of receiving 1,000 valentines.
Who would have guessed that Timmy would receive over 12,000 Valentines? This has been an overwhelming journey, one that is two-fold - not only obtaining the Valentines and gifts for Timmy and his family, but the tremendous support received by people of all ages and from numerous locations.
How do I thank over 12,000 individuals for their gift of love? I am not going to name all the individual names, because I am unable to do so. There were Valentines from all of the Ross County schools and from schools in our neighboring counties. Out-of-area schools and colleges sent cards. Valentines came from area churches and businesses. They came from nursing homes and private individuals in our local area and around Ohio. Valentines and gifts were sent from California, Nevada, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, New York and Pennsylvania. Ohio University Chillicothe current education students and graduates who are now teachers sent them. OUC faculty, administration, staff, and non-education students sent Valentines and gifts. Timmy even received a Mickey Mouse hat with his name on it and a Valentine from Mickey Mouse courtesy of an OUC early childhood education graduate. All of the above individuals got their family members, neighbors, and Facebook friends involved which, multiplied our coverage of this act of love.
I would like to name and thank two individuals who helped me with this project. Sally Timmons, Administrative Assistant at the Child Development Center, coordinated the incoming Valentines and mail I received with the help of a student worker. Sally was our official valentine counter. I do not know what I would have done without her help. I would also like to thank Holli Nelson, Communications and Marketing Director at OUC. Holli was by my side through this whole project getting us media coverage with the Chillicothe Gazette, Channel 6 in Columbus and CBS Inside Edition. Holli also helped me deliver everything to Timmy and his family.
In conclusion, I love projects like this that truly show the willingness of compassionate individuals to help when there is a need. This Valentine drive has shown that the goodness of people is alive and well in our community, state, and across America. I am proud and blessed to be part of a campus and community that support children and families.