From the early days of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to today, the humble generosity of children has helped support the vision of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas — that "no child should die in the dawn of life."
When Danny began traveling the U.S. by car, sharing his dream and raising funds to build the hospital, a young, blind boy held up an envelope containing a quarter and half dollar that he offered to Danny saying, “I want to help the poor sick kids.”
That gesture meant so much to Danny that he had those coins placed in the cornerstone of the St. Jude statue he unveiled at the dedication of the hospital in 1962.
Children still give to St. Jude, including two cousins from a small town near Memphis, Tenn., where St. Jude is located, who save their coins all year to bring to St. Jude at Christmas. They make their donation in honor of their godmother’s sister, Cheryl, who fought leukemia at St. Jude but passed away in 1980 at the age of 12.
“She was just a brave little girl,” said Edna Morrow, Cheryl’s sister, who later worked at St. Jude for more than 14 years as a medical technologist. Edna is godmother to the cousins: Malakai Murrell, 9, and Joshua Brownlee, 12.
Like many children, Malakai and Joshua earn an allowance by doing chores such as taking out the trash, mowing grass and washing the dishes. And they save their extra coins all year to bring donations to St. Jude at Christmas.
They arrived just before Christmas 2017 — for the fourth year in a row — armed with two, heavy coin jars and a peanut canister full of coins. They raised more than $550 this year and more than $1,000 over all four years.
The boys’ grandmother, Corletta Murrell, is a lifelong friend of Edna.
“I knew how good St. Jude was to her and her family,” Corletta remarked. She encouraged the boys to collect coins for St. Jude because she wanted them to learn to give back to their community and to charity.
Now the boys look forward to their St. Jude trip every year so they can give their donation and see the place that worked so hard to care for a child from their hometown. For them, it is a great way to start the holidays.
“It feels good,” says Joshua.
Malakai agrees. “It’s awesome.”
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