During this holiday season, kids are making lists, relaying those wishes to Santa Claus and dropping hints to parents about what they’d like to see under the tree come Christmas morning. Not Madison Gray.
Instead, Madison, 9, a fourth-grader at White Plains Elementary School, devoted her Christmastime conniving to finding a way to make the holiday brighter for others.
This culminated Saturday afternoon when Madison delivered a huge box of stuffed animals, along with candy canes, to residents of the RidgeCrest assisted living facility in Mount Airy who instantly fell in love with the little girl spearheading such a gesture.
“It’s all I want for Christmas,” Billie Miller, one of the center’s 23 assisted-living residents, said of receiving one of the stuffed items and the selfless thought behind the gift.
It wasn’t as if Madison didn’t think of herself a little bit, early on in the Christmas planning season.
“She asked for a golf cart and a four-wheeler,” her mom Jessica said in the RidgeCrest parking lot Saturday just before her daughter made the special yuletide delivery.
“And a BB gun, too,” Madison interjected.
Somehow the realization that she wasn’t going to get any big-ticket items for Christmas caused wheels to turn in the fourth-grader’s head that she should channel any disappointment from this into “helping other people,” Madison said.
“It just kind of popped up,” she added of the idea.
Senior citizens ended up being the chosen group for her holiday cheer. “Nobody thinks of the elderly,” Madison explained.
“She said, ‘people always help kids, but nobody thinks about the elderly,” Jessica Gray said.
Thus, Madison asked that any money her parents planned to spend on gifts for her be put toward the seniors instead.
Naturally, they were somewhat taken aback.
“I think it’s amazing,” Jessica Gray said. “What nine-year-olds do this?”
“It’s always about me, me, me,” Madison’s dad, Kelly, agreed Saturday regarding kids in general, mentioning that he had witnessed a giving quality in his daughter before.
“She’s been like this pretty much all of her life,” he said.
“I’m like, ‘where did you come from?’” Kelly Gray joked. “Are you sure you’re my kid?’’
Once Madison decided to help the seniors, she then had to devise a specific gift idea.
“We were going to do blankets, but Walmart didn’t have enough of them,” her dad said.
So after amassing the stockpile of stuffed animal and other figures, arrangements were made with RidgeCrest to deliver them Saturday afternoon during a session when the residents were enjoying cookies and hot apple cider in a parlor-like area.
When the White Plains family arrived, Madison even insisted on carrying the big box all the way inside, trailed by her parents and little brother Tyler, 4.
As she placed the box beside a Christmas tree in the room encircled by seniors occupying couches and chairs, Madison was introduced by Mandy Inman, life enrichment leader at RidgeCrest:
“That’s all she wanted for Christmas, was to bless you,” Inman told the gathering.
Madison offered a stuffed figure and candy cane to every individual in the room, who responded in kind with hugs and appreciation for the uncommon gift of joy.
After her embrace of Madison, Billie Millie said what the girl did is representative of a true “merry Christmas,” and predicted that the 9-year-old will wind up getting something in return when all is said and done.
“I know Santa Claus is going to be good to you,” Miller told Madison.
“You are such a sweet little girl.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.