Every year since he was six, Micah Pinson, a seventh grader at Corinth Classical Academy, has collected and donated toys to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. In recognition of his volunteer work, he has been selected to receive the 2017 Prudential Spirit of Community Award on March 10.
“When I was six my dad and I had a talk about how the hospital is a non-profit. They did so much for me and thousands of other families so we decided to give back somehow,” said Micah.
When Micah was born, he was missing three fingers on his left hand. His parents were advised to take him to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children as they specialize in orthopedics. Through the hospital Micah received two hand surgeries for free and also participated in three hand camps where he heard from former patients who had hand differences.
Micah’s mother, Angela Pinson, says the support they received from the hospital helped them navigate through the challenge.
“As parents we were shocked and scared. He was six or eight weeks when we first brought him to the hospital. We were still very much in shock. They were great for us as parents in helping us and encouraging us through support groups because you really don’t know what to expect. We are fortunate with Micah that we don’t need those support groups anymore, but as a young parent that was wonderful,” said Mrs. Pinson.
Grateful for all the support they had received from the hospital free of cost, Micah’s father Richard Pinson wanted to find a way for Micah to give back. They found their answer in a toy drive.
“Anytime you ever go to the hospital for a doctor’s visit, you receive a toy. In 2001 the toys shelves were almost completely bare,” said Mr. Pinson.
With the donations of boxes from Lowe’s, wrapping paper from Costco, and the time of local high school students to wrap the boxes, Micah started his toy drive.
“We went to businesses all around, apartments, communities, Costco and Starbucks. I went up and asked if we could put a box there where customers could see the box and drop a toy in. A lot of them said, sure, that would be great. So we would put a box there the Monday after Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas we would start picking them up,” said Micah.
Over the years their toy drive has grown. This year they filled an 18-wheeler with 10,000 toys. Since they started, they have collected 25,000 toys. Collecting toys in an area that ranges from Denton to DeSoto, Micah’s toy drive is the largest single toy donation the hospital receives.
“People have been very generous. Often they are more willing to say yes to a kid and say no to me,” said Mr. Pinson.
Assistant director Christina Wallace at Corinth Classical Academy knew that Micah dedicated many hours of his year to the toy drive so she recommended he apply for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, which is United States’ largest youth recognition program based on volunteer community service only. Micah applied, but didn’t think much of it until he was told in February that he had been selected by the program as Texas top middle school volunteer.
A high school student and a middle school student are selected from each state to receive the award, which includes $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C for the national recognition events in May. From the 102 state honorees, five middle school student and five high school students will be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2017. With over 129,000 applications, Micah was surprised he received the award, but he is also excited.
“I am really excited to go to Washington D.C. I have been once before, but I want to go see everything we missed. There will be a famous person speaking at the banquet in D.C, and I am really hoping it is either Ezekiel Elliott or Dak Prescott. I’m a really big sports fan and that would be incredible,” said Micah.
Despite the recognition he has been receiving recently, Micah’s focus remains bringing joy to the kids.
“Each year they will allow me to present a kid with a toy I picked out. I just love seeing their faces because there is such joy and happiness. It is incredible that we are in a hospital and people are happy. They may be sick, but they don’t feel like they are nothing. I like giving the toys and showing them that they are something. It is an incredible experience,” said Micah.
As he has gotten older, Micah has presented to the board of director’s wives breakfasts at the George Bush Library, CEOs and city officials. Through the process he has become more comfortable with public speaking.
“I learned to talk to a lot of people at one time. I love sharing my story. I love talking about the hospital and telling other people what they have done for me. The hospital does tours and I like to tell people to just go one time to see what they do.,” said Micah.
In addition to his volunteer work, Micah plays sports for Corinth Classical Academy and serves as the vice-president of student council. Campus director, Amie Giacumakis says one of the school’s key goals is to teach students character so that they can be responsible citizens.
“Micah displays the virtues of philanthropy and that is something we seek to instill in all of our scholars. He is a leader on campus and obviously in our community and we are thrilled that he is being recognized for all of his hard work,” said Ms. Giacumakis.
Micah plans to continue his toy drive. He also looks forward to sharing his story.
“I am so fortunate, some kids have lost arms and legs. I have a thumb and a finger, which is really more than I need. It is very helpful. All the kids at Scottish Rite are so amazing. I have learned that you can always give back,” said Micah.