Campus wide, College of Health Sciences, Student Stories

A Christmas toy story

By Jenna Johnson | January 21, 2020
CSU junior Anna Covington gives toys to kids battling cancer at Prisma Health Children's Hospital in Columbia
CSU junior Anna Covington (left) handed out toys to kids at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital over her Christmas break after raising more than $3,000 to do so. Photo provided

Two years ago, God spoke to Anna Covington’s heart about a big idea: to provide some joy in the lives of children battling cancer. The Charleston Southern University public health major drew inspiration from her four-year-old cousin, Jonathan – currently battling Leukemia.

“He hopes to fully beat his cancer next month! Ever since he was diagnosed, I wanted to somehow find a way to bring just a little bit of happiness to these kids,” Covington said. “Acts 20:35 says it best, In everything I did, I showed you by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

In summer 2019, doors of opportunity began to open. Her first meeting was with Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia.

“I just wanted to meet with them to see what we could do and how we would go about doing it,” Covington said. Within a month, Covington’s idea became a joint mission project with churches, businesses and individuals to raise funds and toys for kids fighting cancer. They called it “Jonathan’s Toy Drive” in honor of her little cousin.

Covington spoke at churches and shared information with businesses. And within a little over a month, donors statewide raised a total $3,308.45 – $2,000 went to Camp Kemo Programs and $1,308.45 went towards buying toys and gift cards for the families at the children’s hospital.

“I did not do this alone. It was because of God and through prayer, donations and support from my friends, family and community that this toy drive was the amazing success that it was,” said Covington.

Covington delivered the toys and gift cards to the children at the hospital over Christmas break. “I honestly do not think there is a word I can use to describe the way it felt when I saw those smiles on those kids’ faces. It was a sight I will never forget and moments I will treasure forever…those kids changed my life forever.”

Dr. Lindsey Egli, assistant professor of public health, said that Covington is a blessing to the CSU public health program. “Anna is one of those students who came into our program with a passion for helping others. She is inspiring to watch, and we cannot wait to see what her future holds.”

Director of the Public Health Program Dr. Christine Palmer agreed. “Anna exemplifies public health in action, and proves that students can make a difference in the lives of others. Anna has a promising career ahead of her improving the health and quality of life for those around her.”

Currently a junior, Covington plans to continue the toy drive project, with hopes that her story will encourage more participation. “Even if it is not this specifically, I will always encourage and support everyone who wants to go out and make a difference.” She also credits CSU for making a difference in her own life. “My relationship and love for God has grown so much because of CSU and for that I will forever be thankful.”


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