MONROE, CT — Michael Murray, of Trumbull, a bone cancer survivor, founded Michael and the Holiday Angels, which enlists the help of school children and scouts to put together Christmas care packages for sick children in hospitals.
Now in its fourth year, Monroe children continue to be a big part of the effort. This holiday season, Monroe Elementary School first and fourth graders decorated 140 bags, decorated tiles and rocks, and made holiday cards for the care packages.
“I do this because I’m a cancer survivor and we want to put a smile on kids’ faces,” Murray said.
Last year, he delivered around 250 care packages to hospitals in Danbury, New Milford and Sharon. But because some hospitals closed their pediatric centers, Murray opened it up to underprivileged kids in the community, children with special needs and the physically challenged.
WEBE-108 and Trumbull Self Storage are sponsors. The self storage business is providing a unit for the Christmas care packages Murray collects.
The packages include a blanket, a scarf, hats, a stocking filled with coloring books and toys, a personalized letter from Murray, handmade cards from children, and decorative tiles and rocks with positive messages.
Murray said he will distribute this year’s packages in the first or second week of December.
In addition to Monroe Elementary School, Murray worked with Brownie Girl Scout Troop 34018, Girl Scout Troop 34130, and with Mike McCormick, pack leader of Cub Scout Troop 262.
“They decorated bags and tiles, made holiday cards and donated a lot of nice toys for these sick kids — and they’re looking forward to doing it again next year,” Murray said of the Cub Scouts.
Kids helping kids
On Tuesday afternoon, Murray visited Monroe Elementary School to pick up artwork and cards for the gift packages.
Students from first and fourth grade classes assembled in the parking lot with their teachers, so Murray could speak to them.
“I just want to say, ‘thank you very much’ to each and every child here,” he said. “You have made this project a success. You are helping sick kids from Connecticut communities and hospitals and they’re going to love all these bags, which are wonderful, and the rocks and cards. It’s all going to sick children.”
Murray asked for a round of applause for the students, then posed for a group photo with them and their teachers.
“I think it is an amazing cause during the holidays,” said Melissa Lardi, a first grade teacher, adding of the students, “they’re used to receiving. When we told them this was for sick kids and about giving, they were so excited that they could put a smile on kids’ faces.”
Oftentimes, Lardi said the older students did writing for the rocks and cards, while the younger ones did the coloring and artwork.
Murray is planning a pizza party to thank all of them.
“They’ve been working really hard the last couple months for this project,” he said. “It’s nice to see kids helping sick kids.”
Those interested in donating new unopened toys for children (babies to young teens), making hand-made blankets and cards, and stones with messages to inspire and lift their spirits can email Murray at [email protected].