Valley Grove student’s toy drive is Saturday

Three years ago, Valley Grove student Josie Seely had $80 in her pocket and a desire to deliver presents to hospital-bound children.

Josie’s desire has since grown into a mission with her annual toy drive that will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church on Liberty Street in Franklin.

Josie Seely

Josie, who lives in Rocky Grove and is a seventh grader in the Valley Grove School District, came up with the idea of giving toys to patients in Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh in 2016 while Christmas shopping with her family.

The drive and donations to Children’s are in honor of her friend Zoe Cresswell and in memory of Andrew O’Neil.

Zoe was a third-grade student at Valley Grove when she had multiple surgeries at Children’s to treat hydrocephalus, which is pressure in the brain caused by fluid build up.

“She’s (Zoe) doing very good, she’s in fifth-grade now and has even joined sports,” Josie’s mother, Missy, said.

Andrew, 5, who lived in North Huntingdon, passed away in December 2016 following a nearly two-year battle with the childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Missy said this year’s drive has no theme, but a bus has been donated by Lepley Bus Service to drive Josie and her cohorts to Children’s on Sunday.

Last year’s drive saw 720 items collected. Any monetary gifts that are given during the drive are taken to local stores before Sunday’s trek to Pittsburgh.

“Unfortunately we’re not allowed to give the gifts to the children themselves because of confidentiality reasons,” Missy said, but she added that Josie and those who help have come to know “it’s worth it just to see all those gifts together.”