The kids at South Doyle Middle School have never met 9-year-old Jacob Thompson, and they probably never will.

Still, they wanted to make sure he knew that he has a whole lot of friends in Knoxville.

"It makes me feel very special," said Nolan Brang, a student at South Doyle. "I think it’s very cool to have the opportunity to do this, especially with a kid in the situation that he’s in to do this and have a great Christmas."

Thompson lives in Portland, Maine, and is battling terminal cancer. All he wanted to celebrate his favorite holiday was Christmas cards from around the country. He has already received thousands of cards, and there are hundreds more on the way from Knoxville.

"I want you to know to stay strong because cancer is a big bully," Jernesha Bond wrote in her card. "I hope you have a wonderful Christmas."

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Dozens of students came in to school early on Monday to help make the cards. They wrote messages of hope and friendship to send to Jacob.

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"When you have situations like this, it does just as much for the giver as it does the recipient," said Andrew Brown, principal of South Doyle Middle School. "I think it teaches empathy. It teaches them to look at the needs of others and put themselves aside and think about the cares and needs of others instead of themselves."

If you want to send Christmas cards to Jacob, here is the address to mail them:

Jacob Thompson
C/O Maine Medical Center
22 Bramhall St
Portland, ME 04102