Third Graders Help Kids in Cambodia

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

Part of the holiday spirit is helping people less fortunate. And students at one Augusta County are sending their goodwill overseas.

Third graders at Hunter McGuire School in Verona collect toys every year as a community service project. But this year is a little different.

"My dad is taking a trip to Cambodia, and he's going to pack all these toys in pockets and he's going to hand them out to children," explained Lillian Phillips, one of the school's third graders.

"We will be going to pediatric hospitals and orphanages and various places throughout Cambodia, interacting with the children and doing what we call medical clowning," said her father, Dr. Stephen Phillips, the medical director for the Center for Corporate Health at Rockingham Memorial Hospital.

"Laughter and smiles often times help when you're not feeling quite so well."

Dr. Phillips is going to Cambodia with other volunteers from the Patch Adams Gesundheit Institute. The group is scheduled to leave on Thursday, and the students collected more than 1,000 toys - in just two days - for the troupe to take along.

"We have like 11 cars, I think. And we have like 21 little dolls," said third grader Eloise Germic.

"I had no idea we would get this much stuff," added classmate Max Hamilton.

"I am just so proud," said third grade teacher Courtney Mitchell. "It just took so little effort to open these children's hearts, and to open their families' hearts to be able to contribute."

And Mitchell's students say they're happy to help.

"Because I know we're helping people that are poor, and less fortunate than ourselves," said student Hunter Call.

"I just think, wow," added Lillian Phillips. "These people are very nice and they think of other kids as brothers and sisters."

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