Emmy Little is bringing Chatham together, one donated gift at a time


Photo by Charlotte Ririe/Our Chatham

For Emmy Little, finding people in need is almost instinctual.

The 10-year-old student at North Chatham Elementary School has organized homemade charities since she was little. From lemonade stands that helped pay for her horseback riding instructor’s vet bills to random acts of kindness, Little is always thinking about to whom she can bring a smile next.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Katherine Smart, Little’s instructor, wrote in an email.

But this year, Little is looking to rise to a new challenge of giving: donating 100 toys by Christmas to UNC Hospitals, the Lineberger Cancer Center and the Ronald McDonald House.

Little’s mother, Laura Little, said the idea originally sparked after her daughter helped raise money for a school friend with leukemia.

But now the mission to deliver gifts to children in the hospital is in full swing, with Little and her mother having collected gifts this December from friends, neighbors, family and even online donations.

“She has also raised funds in the past for children with cancer,” Smart said. “I think this generous effort, to give 100 hospitalized children each a present for Christmas, tops them all.”

Laura Little said she worked to help Emmy spread the word with her coworkers and posts on Facebook about how and where people can donate toys.

In an interview this week, Emmy said she had reached almost 125 toys.

Photo by Charlotte Ririe/Our Chatham

“It’s good to help them out because if you would imagine yourself in [the hospital], you’d want something,” Emmy said. “You’d probably want to be home, instead of at the hospital.” 

According to data from 2012, the average hospital stay in the U.S. for children is nearly four days, and there were roughly 8,000 hospitals stays per 100,000 people. UNC Children’s has 14 divisions just in its Department of Pediatrics,  and 150 inpatient beds in the department.

But for Emmy, she says not being at home with friends and family during the holidays is something no child should endure. She said she’s working to bring gifts, but also smiles.

And that’s a welcomed mission in Chatham, especially with protests wracking downtown Pittsboro. Laura Little mentioned in a video interview that both she and Emmy noticed the protestors while driving downtown, and that it has impacted the daily lives of Chathamites.

Laura Little said she’s had to veer around downtown or take another route around the protests.

That’s why Laura Little believes her daughter can be an example – not only for her peers, but also to other adults, especially during the holidays.

“It’s all that negativity, and I was just like, ‘this is what we’re doing with our time,’” Laura Little said. “I just wish her views can go off. I feel like she can teach so many adults.”

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