MINONK, Ill -- One local boy is sharing his toys with children hundreds of miles away.
Nicholas Fleming, 8, lives in Marquette Heights with his mother, but spends a lot of time in Minonk with Diana and Kort Alcorn, whom he considers his grandparents. Over the past several years, the Alcorn's have gotten Nicholas over 40 Build-A-Bear teddy bears.
"Every holiday, he loves going and the process of making the bears, stuffing them, naming them, getting the birth certificates," said Diana.
When it was time to redecorate his room, he decided the bears were a little babyish and it was time to move on. Diana suggested donating them to the Appalachian Outreach, a poverty and relief mission in West Virginia.
"They showed me pictures of the kids and told me about them. So Di asked if I wanted to donate them and I had to think awhile. After about 2 weeks I came back and I told her sure," said Nicholas.
Diana said the organization serves a lot of families in the mining industry hit hard in a tough economy.
"We thought we would give it to children from the mining organization," said Diana. "My husband works for Prairie Materials, in the mining kind of above ground kind of business. We know what's its like for those layoffs and times are hard so we thought about those little kids."
Now the task for the Alcorns was how to deliver 40 bears to the mission over 500 miles away.
That's where Max and Carol Hood stepped in. The Alcorn's are customers of the Hood's pet grooming business. Max had mentioned he was from West Virginia and was taking a trip the beginning of November. It turns out, the mission's warehouse was just a block off his regular route.
"They filled up the entire back of the box and also the entire club cab that we have. And everything fit. It had to be God's will or it wouldn't have fit all in one truck. It had to be God's will that we first of all just met," said Carol Hood.
Now, the bears and waiting to put smiles on the faces of children in West Virginia, a lesson in giving not only this holiday season but for a lifetime.
"So important that someone this young decides that he wants somebody else to feel the happiness that he's had," said Carol.
"I hope he takes it with him later in life. It's a life lesson that he can use the rest of his life as he grows into an adult and continues to give," added Diana.