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'Smallest bit of joy' | Donation of 300 Lego sets helping kids battling cancer

William Johnson left a note for Santa in his stocking asking for money to help kids with cancer. In the end, he donated more than 300 Lego sets to Novant Health.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The St. Jude’s affiliate clinic at Novant Health’s Hemby Children’s Hospital is sorting through more than 300 Lego sets donated by a North Carolina family. The toys are bound to brighten treatment day for a child battling cancer.

Most people have taken the Christmas decorations down and turned their focus to the new year. But an Indian Trail 9-year-old is just getting around to making his Christmas wish come true.

It all started with a letter 9-year-old William Johnson left in his stocking for Santa. Part of it read, “I just want to donate at least $25 to $50 to cancer.”

“I just know what they’re going through and how hard it is for them to have cancer,” William told WCNC Charlotte.

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The Johnson family lost a family friend named Braxton to childhood cancer. He liked playing with Legos during treatment so they decided that’s what they would donate.

“Really they can only sit down and do Legos instead of getting up and playing like we can,” William explained.

His parents were surprised when they found the letter but knew it was the perfect opportunity to make a difference during the holiday season. They arranged for Santa to make a home delivery and drop off a few Lego sets but the power of social media made the biggest difference.

After William’s mom Rebecca posted a picture of the letter on social media, they started getting dozens of donations.

William and his older brother Ethan would rush home from school every day to see what had been delivered.

“We got one from Tennessee, we got some from New York and we got them from all over the place,” 11-year-old Ethan said.

The family would take trips to different stores to buy as many Lego sets as they could with the money family and friends donated. In the end, they dropped off more than 300 sets at the St. Jude’s affiliate clinic at Novant Health in Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood.

Hundreds of small boxes are bound to make a big difference for kids, and parents, going through a tough time.

“Just that smallest bit of joy," Rebecca Johnson said. "I hope that just fills their heart and that they’re just able to hold on to that and that their kid is able to have a moment where they’re doing a Lego set and everything is fine."

The clinic relies on donations like this one to best serve the thousands of families they’ll see each year. Oftentimes, those donations don’t come from other kids.

“Toys are super, super, super important because it allows kids to just be kids while receiving chemotherapy,” Evi Fulton, a child life specialist with Novant Health said.

“It feels nice because I’m doing stuff for other people and when I bring them here it makes me happy for other people,” William said.

William’s parents said he didn’t ask to keep any of the Legos they collected for himself.

The family plans to do it again next year.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.