Young Girl Brings Thousands of Toys to Other Kids
Photo Credit: Tim Gouw / Unsplash
One day at band camp …
That sounds so cliché, but there’s no better beginning to this story. After picking my daughter up from her first day at middle school band camp, I did what any mother does and asked her if she made new friends. That’s when the name Carrington Craig first entered our lives. For a while, all I knew about Carrington was that she was the only other girl saxophone player at band camp, and she made my daughter smile.
When I finally met Carrington’s mother, I got a little bit more of a peek inside why Carrington was such a good friend. The answer is, she cares. I learned Carrington had an annual toy drive she’d been hosting since she was 4 years old, and that she has also created a scholarship to help other middle schoolers attend STEM camps. With "create a scholarship" on my own bucket list, I had to know more, so I Googled her. There was much to learn, but when it came down to it, the best source was Carrington herself.
Hopefully you will feel inspired by Carrington. Maybe you’ll share this with a friend or a daughter, and maybe you, too, will feel the pull of caring that Carrington has and get inspired to make a difference where you live.
Life for Carrington
Carrington Craig is a middle schooler who loves playing with slime and engineering things. She loves spending time with her Nana, who sounds like a lot of fun to be around. According to Carrington, her mom will not let her “grow up too fast,” so she has to “remain a kid.” When talking to Carrington, she attributes much to her prayers and God.
A Girl Scout since first grade, Carrington’s biggest achievement in the program so far is receiving the Bronze Award for her foundation. The Bronze Award is the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can achieve. They do it by making a difference in their community. Carrington was awarded this honor for her foundation, the Carrington and Friends Foundation.
She plans to attend Howard University eventually, earn her degree in engineering, then travel the world while “trying to do my best to help people.”
The Carrington and Friends Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit under which sits two distinct initiatives.
The first has been going on for eight years — the annual toy drive and caroling event. At just 4 years old, Carrington wondered if the kids at the hospital received gifts from Santa. When she learned that they were more focused on the gift of health, Carrington asked her family to donate toys. Eight years later, she’s added a caroling event and a goal to donate 20,000 toys to kids each holiday season.
The second kicked off in 2019 with the creation of the Carrington A. Craig Scholarship Fund. With a kids' gala as the main fundraiser, the scholarship will benefit middle school students and offset costs of attending STEM camps.
When I asked Carrington what kind of support she had, I knew she’d say her mom, but I thought there might be more behind-the-scenes helpers. Nope. According to Carrington, “When I tell my mommy what I want to do and who I want to help, I make a plan for how to reach people and Mommy does, too. My mom’s friends and our family are very, very supportive. The only help I get putting events on is my mom. She does everything pretty much that I ask for.”
So while she may have a lot of support, the bulk of everything is her and her mom. If we can learn anything from this, it’s to parent like Mrs. Craig. When our kids come to us with an idea, don’t just praise their idea — make it happen!
When asked who is her biggest inspiration, Carrington writes, “God and my mommy.” No hesitation in that, and another similarity I share with our young friend.
Caring in a Pandemic
The year 2020 has not been kind to a lot of us. With COVID-19 throwing us into a world we never saw coming, there have been a few more obstacles put in Carrington’s way. She had to cancel both the toy drive and the kids' gala this year due to restrictions. However, she is hoping to still get gift cards to families with children in the hospital.
She was also able to donate activities to the residents at a local senior living center. These activities were much needed when residents began feeling the effects of isolation from regular visitors.
Even during normal years, the biggest obstacle Carrington says she faces is getting people to support her foundation. There are a few different ways you can support her: If you’re local to the Indiana area, you can volunteer at one of the events when they can be held again. If you’re not local, you can donate online via PayPal to either the toy drive or the scholarship fund. Just follow the links on her website.
Advice from Carrington to You
It seems like the best way to end this feature is with a little advice to inspire you to go out and make a difference in the world. If a 4-year-old can see a need and make a change that has continued to grow for eight years, then so can you and I.
Here’s what Carrington wants you to know: “Don’t think it has to be something really big. Look around and figure out where you can help and don’t think you’ll get anything back. Just do it because you want to build people up.”
Build people up. That’s all there really is to it, isn’t it? Look around — who can you lift today?