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10 Rising Hearts: Cancer survivor collects toys for children in hospitals

A 10-year-old boy in Greene County wants to donate 3,000 toys next month to children in hospitals.

For the fourth time, Avery Armstrong is collecting toys to give to children in hospitals.

"I like getting presents, but I think it's even better giving presents," the fifth grade student said.

Avery's grandmother, Teresa Taylor, said, "He is an old soul in a young body. His wisdom far surpasses his age."

Avery, 10, knows what it's like to spend time in the hospital. He was diagnosed with Leukemia about six years ago and has undergone treatment at different hospitals.

"Really it's just boring. You're sitting around in a hospital bed and the only thing you have to do is watch TV," he said.

Teresa said, "He has spent many, many holidays in the hospital and he knows what joy a little toy can bring."

Avery's grandmother and the rest of his family help with the annual toy drive, but he does most of the work labeling and counting the donated toys every week.

Avery Armstrong Toy Drive

His fellow students at Chuckey Elementary School are in a friendly competition among themselves and against another school to collect the most toys. The more the better.

"I think that people in the hospital need something to do. They need toys to help them and get their minds off of stuff," Avery said.

His school principal said Avery is a natural leader and a hard worker.

"He is a very strong and determined young man, and I think it is really neat to watch him be able to give back to students who are maybe in the same situation that he was in, and to see the joy that it brings him to be able to do that," Chuckey Elementary School Principal LeAnn Myers said.

Just like in years past, Avery will deliver the toys to the hospitals in December, and then they will distribute the gifts to patients all year, not just at Christmas time.

The toys must be new, un-opened and un-wrapped.

"If they were open they could have germs on them and it could get the kids in the hospitals even sicker," Avery explained.

Teresa said, "I'm hoping everyone in East Tennessee can get behind him. I think this is a very worthwhile cause."

Avery has a prediction for this year's toy drive.

"I'm going to say this year I 'm going to try to get 3,000. That's an awfully big number. Yeah, but last year we got 2,500 so I think we can do it," he said.

You can drop off new, un-wrapped toys at 26 locations in Greeneville, Johnson City and Kingsport.

Here's a link to the "Team Avery" Facebook page with the specifics.

We are featuring students making a difference here in East Tennessee in our series 10 Rising Hearts. These are students who reach beyond their schools and families to help make our community better. To nominate a student, please send an email describing them and their community service to 10Hearts@wbir.com.

10 Rising Hearts