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Kindergarten Student Collects Donations Instead of Birthday Gifts

"I have a good friend who teaches in one of the schools hit hard by the hurricane," said Bultema. "They lost everything."

He told his students about how the children in North Carolina couldn't go to school for weeks and how everything in their classrooms was destroyed and ruined. He's been talking to his young students about being good friends and good citizens, so a lesson in real-life giving seemed a perfect fit. His class started bringing in items to send to North Carolina.

"It's important to be able to help other people, even when you are only 5 or 6 years old," said Bultema. "They (the students) learn they can do something to help and it makes them feel good. Kids love to help people."

Bultema and other teachers at McFall collected more than a dozen boxes of cleaning products, clothing, and school supplies. Then he found out about Joey's birthday wish.

"It's just really cool," said Bultema. "He (Joey) got the biggest smile on his face when he told me about it. The whole class gave him a round of applause."

Joey's parents, Dawn and Joe Graham, said they are very happy to help their young son learn such a valuable lesson about helping others.

"We sponsor a little boy in Mexico who we send a little money each month and sometimes a little something special.  Joey gets to see pictures and we talk about why we do it. We can go buy milk and cereal any time, but others can't," said Dawn. "We've tried to instill the lesson that it's good to help others who don't have everything we have."

So when the party day came, Joey had fun playing with all his friends and family at the arcade and singing along with Chuck E. Cheese, but he also helped a lot of people in a place far away.

"We've never had to face this kind of devastation and I hope we never have to. We just want to help those people get through this tough time," said Dawn. "And we want Joey to know it's good to help others."

Joey, who was a bit shy said he was very happy. "All this stuff," he said about what he got for his birthday pointing to the boxes of items donated to be sent to someone else.

He didn't say much else, but the smile on his face and the glimmer in his eyes said it all as he posed for a photo with his kindergarten classmates - each holding an item ready to send to someone they don't even know.