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Felts Mills girl spreads holiday cheer through toy donations

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FELTS MILLS — Taylor A. Korzuch may look and act like a normal 8-year-old girl.

She participates in gymnastics, loves the Disney Channel and enjoys singing and dancing. But the daughter of Clarence T. and Kathleen M. Korzuch, Felts Mills, chose this holiday season to show she also has a big heart.

“I was thinking about some kids this year and I thought it would be cool to help the kids in the hospital,” Taylor said.

The Black River Elementary School third-grader approached her mother in November about taking in donations of used toys.

“All we asked her was what she wanted for Christmas,” Mrs. Korzuch said. “We are overwhelmed with donations — one whole room is full with dolls and used toys.”

“She acted really surprised that I was doing this,” Taylor said of her mother. “She almost cried — as usual.”

Following their daughter’s request, Mr. and Mrs. Korzuch, assisted by family friend Angel Smith, set out to inform everyone at Taylor’s school of her wish.

“She challenged her class and the principal challenged the entire school,” Mr. Korzuch said.

“The second day after I shared my announcement, there was kids bringing all donations to me. I got, like, a whole box of them like that big,” Taylor said, spreading her arms.

The original idea was to take donated toys to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, Syracuse. But after learning that items donated to the hospital had to be new, the family decided to expand its outreach.

Old toys, stuffed animals and blankets were collected for the Children’s Home of Jefferson County and Guilfoyle Ambulance in Watertown, and Black River Ambulance. New items were accepted at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“I think it’s a wonderful initiative for a little girl to be thinking of children less fortunate than she,” said Barbara J. Peck, Children’s Home director of administration services. “It’s a great example for other children and adults alike.”

Mrs. Peck said the donated items would find a place in the Children’s Home visitation center. “It’s nice to have toys for them to play with ... it should be as natural a setting as possible,” she said.

Taylor estimated that over the course of three weeks, more than 100 toys were collected.

The family also took in close to $350 in cash donations, Mrs. Korzuch said. They used the money to purchase new toys and other items such as coloring books, art boards and pajamas.

“Instead of wearing boring old clothes — hospital clothes — they can wear nice furry pajamas. We got all sizes — the teenagers, the little kids my age and the little, little kids,” Taylor said.

The whole idea left Taylor’s parents choked up. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God,’” Mrs. Korzuch said.

On Sunday, the family took stuffed animals and blankets to the ambulance services. Mrs. Korzuch said the items would be used to comfort children who had been in an accident or a fire.

“I think it’s wonderful that she’s doing volunteer efforts. ... The fact that she’s taken this on, it’s great,” said Alan C. Gaines, assistant director of operations for Black River Ambulance.

Overall, Taylor said, the experience was enjoyable and she hopes to do it again next year. The only difference is she hopes to boost the number of people who get involved.

The Korzuch family plans to take the rest of the donations and some holiday wish cards submitted by the YMCA School-Aged Child Care program at Black River Elementary School to Golisano Children’s Hospital on Saturday.

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