WATCH: Joey Wilson-Smithenson lost both of his parents this year, but he still giving back, making a meaningful donation to kids in need. April Lawrence reports for CHEK’s Spirit of the Season series.
You’ll always find a toy bus in Joey Wilson-Smithenson’s hand when he’s riding the real bus.
In fact, toys are the 17-year-old’s greatest joy.
And that’s why a visit Friday to the Salvation Army’s toy shop was such a huge deal. Not because Joey was there to get anything but because he was there to give.
He didn’t just donate a few toys but numerous boxes full of his most cherished possessions.
It’s a big step because the toys were particularly special to Joey’s mom.
“His mom hung on to a lot of the toys because those were her memories of him from when he was little,” said Des Bowker, Joey’s education assistant.
But just a few months ago Joey’s mom died suddenly of a heart attack ? his dad died of cancer in the summer.
“It’s not easy, but we try to have fun,” said Bowker.
Incredibly, through his unimaginable loss, Joey has kept a smile on his face
“He is just an amazing kid when you think you’re having a really, really bad day and you go and pick him up and he smiles at you it just changes everything,” said Sherri Aitken, Manager of ThirdWave Bus Services which helps transport special needs children.
And although he loves the toys, when he found out there wasn’t room to store all of them at his new group home, he was happy to pass some along to kids who might need them even more than he does.
“Very proud of him for what he’s done, by giving away so many things that he cherished,” said Joey’s grandmother Donna Smithenson.
Those who run the toy shop say they’re touched by Joey’s meaningful gift.
“It’s encouraging for us to see Joey come in and just to hear even though some of the struggles we’ve heard of that he’s got a big smile and he’s still giving,” said Salvation Army spokesperson Pat Humble.