NEW ORLEANS - A fourth grade student’s wish for a “happier life” for Christmas led to a wave of incredible donations and a trip of a lifetime for his struggling family.
New Orleans City Council Member-elect Jay Banks encountered the nine-year-old student’s wish while working with the annual Angel Tree program at the Dryades YMCA.
Banks randomly selected the student’s form and said he was “dumbfounded” when he saw the student simply asked for new shoes and a happier life.
“That just broke my heart, it just tore me up,” Banks said.
As it turns out, the student and his family have been having a turbulent year.
Angela Harrison, the boy’s mother, lost her method of transportation and job when she was injured in a car wreck.
Harrison had to move into her mother’s house with her three sons and fiance while trying to make ends meet, leading to her youngest son’s request.
Terrie Coyle, Harrison’s mother, said her grandson was trying to help his entire family get past a very trying year.
“Our little miracle man, he’s been trying to boost up the family, I guess you would call it,” Coyle said.
Nothing could have prepared the family for the reaction to the boy’s request.
A wave of donations came in to the school, allowing school officials to take care of more children this year through the Angel’s Tree program than ever before, Banks said.
And then, out of nowhere, the owner of an international finance company in California stepped in with an offer to send the entire family on an all expense paid, five-day trip to Walt Disney World in Florida over the Christmas holidays.
The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has never been to New Orleans, but he said when he read about the boy’s Christmas wish online, he was inspired to help.
“My grandson’s voice was heard,” Coyle said. “There is a God out there. There is someone that cares about people that are down.”
The Dryades YMCA is still accepting donations for the Angel Tree program and others like it. Click here to find out more.