A word that is defined as the voluntary giving of help to those in need.
Now that we are in the season of giving and with the holidays around the corner, we’re reminded to give a helping hand to those in need this season. And Kayla Jones is doing just that.
Saturday, Dec. 3, the Johnstown Tomahawks and the All-4-Smiles Fund, founded by Jones, are partnering to for the fifth annual Teddy Bear Toss. During the game, fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears and stuffed animals to throw onto the ice after the Tomahawks score their first goal.
And for Kayla, the Teddy Bear Toss represents an opportunity to “pay it forward.”
Kayla was diagnosed with pneumonia in October 2009. While hospitalized in UPMC Bedford, she received a stuffed animal and a pack of stickers to help brighten her spirits. That moment of charity made a lasting impression on Kayla.
“It made me feel special,” Kayla said. “When I saw the other children in the hospital didn’t get stickers, I knew that there are others that need a heart-warming feeling that someone cares about them.”
These two simple acts of kindness made her want to donate items to the hospital so that other children would have something to cuddle or keep them busy while getting better.
Kayla’s father, Richard, says Kayla wanted to buy stuffed animals to donate to other kids.
“When she got better she came to me and bugged me for a year to buy stuffed animals to give to the kids and older people in the hospital,” Richard Jones said. “So after a year of bugging me, I went to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and set up the All-4-Smiles non-profit organization and now we donate thousands of stuffed animals to local hospitals.”
Richard said that Kayla is a special girl filled with compassion and selflessness. And that those traits have helped people in need.
“Kayla is a special person,” Richard said. “She is a very compassionate person that puts other people in front of herself.”
“It’s something that I like to do because it makes me feel better to know that I am putting smiles on the faces of children,” Kayla said.
Her compassion and charity have gained the attention of the Tomahawks.
A big hockey fan, Kayla got the chance to interact with the Tomahawks players on Wednesday, Nov. 16 for a photoshoot.
Richard Jones said that the experience of meeting the Tomahawks players was very exciting for his daughter.
“She was very excited to meet the players,” Richard said. “They are very nice young men.”
The excitement is growing for the upcoming Teddy Bear Toss game as it is a tradition here in Johnstown.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Kayla is looking forward to the Teddy Bear Toss game,” Richard said. “It’s about her experiences, getting stuffed animals and giving back to children. This is what her organization is all about and that is why she wants to do this.”
The stuffed animals and teddy bears collected from the December 3 home game will be donated to local hospitals and children in need.
Johnstown will face the Northeast Generals Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. For tickets, fans can visit the War Memorial box office, call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or order online at Ticketmaster.com.