Local athlete’s fundraiser donates toys to hospitalized children

Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 2:23 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A former star basketball player from Vanguard College Prep in Waco raised money for a major shopping spree - buying over $14,000 worth of toys for kids who are receiving treatment at Dell Children’s Medical Center this holiday season.

The fundraiser started as a class project four years ago while Joe Schwartz was playing basketball at UT. Schwartz was so moved by the experience, he decided to make it bigger.

He describes the experience saying, “There is nothing more humbling than walking into a children’s hospital and seeing someone fighting for their life.”

When Joe’s time as a Longhorn ended, so did the fundraiser. When Joe heard that COVID-19 restrictions are only allowing children in the hospital to see one family member at a time, he knew it was time to bring ‘Dollars for Dell’ back to life.

“If you’re telling me these kids are going to be lonely on Christmas morning, with maybe one family member in their hospital room, we need to make sure every kid is taken care of.”

On December 9th, Joe started a fundraiser online and set a lofty goal of $15,000. That amount is more than the fundraiser had ever brought in, so Joe wondered if his goal was a little too high.

He remembers thinking, “Maybe this is asking a little too much. Especially given the circumstances 2020 has brought to everyone”

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

“Day after day more names would pop-up on the list and more money was rolling in”

More than 400 people donated to the fund, and the total shot past $17,000 raised. With the extra money, Joe is working with local restaurants to treat hospital employees as well, and the ‘small’ Christmas fundraiser will now stretch beyond the holiday season.

“We are working with the hospital right now to lineup meals for after New Year’s. This is something we want to keep going for years to come.”

Joe says the fundraiser wouldn’t have been as successful without the support of his home community in central Texas, and he was blown away by all the love and support.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has made a donation. Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution. Those who have reached out. Whether it was donating toys, donating money, or spreading the word... their willingness to share this message, this holiday spirit... it’s overwhelming”

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