Surviving a house fire is a devastating experience, with no chance of recovering essential belongings and prized possessions, such as photos, family heirlooms, and for young children – beloved toys. On September 21, Daniel Hunt, a third grade student at Philadelphia Elementary School in Tennessee, and his family lost their house and all their assets in a fire.
With so many people asking how they could help, the school responded by organizing a secret toy drive for Daniel.
Kelly Jones, a Philadelphia Elementary School counselor, knew Daniel as “one of the most positive, happy students I’ve ever seen.” Daniel was simply overjoyed when he realized that his teachers and classmates all pitched in to replace some of the toys that he had lost.
“It was amazing to witness the excitement these third-grade kids had while sneaking in toys. The entire week, they couldn’t love him enough,” Jones added. “People were holding doors for him, getting his pencil ready for him each morning, taking his chair down from the desk for him to sit in and swarming him at recess.”
On the day of the reveal, the teachers sent Daniel out on an errand. Teachers and students then crowded into a classroom and hastily piled desks high with donated toys. When Daniel returned, everyone in the room yelled “surprise!” The young child was rendered speechless by the heartwarming show of love and support.
Philadelphia Elementary School shared the happy occasion on Facebook: “Last week, one of our Warriors, Daniel Hunt, lost all of this belongings in a house fire. His 3rd-grade teachers and classmates started a secret toy drive for him to replace the toys he lost. He received the toys today and he was so surprised and thankful!”
Daniel couldn’t be any happier. He said, “I love it! Everyone come here,’’ and everyone, students and teachers, ALL FRIENDS, swarmed in for a group hug. Jones recalled, “Daniel didn’t immediately start going through the toys, but instead wanted to give his classmates a hug for what they did for him.”
She added, “Every adult and even a few students had tears swelling up in their eyes who were in the room to witness this. I feel extremely blessed to have witnessed the pure love and giving from the hearts of the 3rd grade students at my school last week.”
Daniel’s mother, Kristen Hunt, felt all the love as well. She was so overcome with gratitude that she cried for 45 minutes after she found out about the school’s sweet surprise. “I’m just so overwhelmed at all the love and the community coming together for us. It’s just very overwhelming and a blessing.”
Marsha Hunt, Daniel’s grandmother, said that the young boy told her, “I’m happy crying and I have joy in my stomach.” She was so grateful for the love and compassion shown by the teachers and students at the elementary school.
“I love that his friends gave from their heart to this special little grandson, they were so excited to give! He has looked at each and every toy, big and small, and he loves them all. Thank you so much!“