Own Experiences Lead Southington Boys to ‘Pay It Forward’

After residents provided unexpected gifts and helped bring holiday spirit to two Southington boys, the children – along with a brother – have decided to do their part to help others in a time of need. First, however, they need your help.

Credit: Submitted by Laura McKnerny.
Credit: Submitted by Laura McKnerny.
There was a Christmas several years back that left Matthew Olson, a Southington resident, believing that Santa was not going to pay him a visit. Olson was at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center for a ruptured appendix and believed

But Santa did visit anyway – or at least it appeared that way with some help from those looking to brighten the holidays for those in the hospital. He awoke in the morning to find a stuffed stocking and several gifts, ready to be opened.

Now Olson, 13, and friends Shawn McKnerney, 12, who received stuffed animals as gifts while a patient at the hospital having open-heart surgery, and his brother Dylan McKnerney, 10, are looking to pay it forward for a second year in a row and give others a happy holiday and merry Christmas.

“Each one of the children have their own stories about what the Children's Hospital has done for them and why they would like to help the children in the hospital have a great holiday despite being in the hospital,” said Laura McKnerny.

For the second year in a row, the three boys are partnering with the Southington Dairy Queen for an annual toy drive to collect items for those who will spend the holidays receiving medical treatment.

The first effort in 2012 helped raise more than 500 toys that were delivered to the hospital and the boys said their goal is to surpass that this year and help spread good cheer well beyond Christmas Day, as well as provide hope to those who need it.

The collection, already underway, runs through Dec. 20 and every child who brings an unwrapped toy will to the collection spot at Dair Queen’s 1731 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike store will receive a coupon for a free ice cream cone. A little help can go a long way.

“Their goal here is to truly ‘pay it forward,’ and with the help of the public, they are doing just that,” Laura McKnerny said.

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