Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School Students Annalise O’Connell, Sofia Arboleda, and Bailey Apgar all share a birthday in October. This year, instead of having a birthday party and getting presents from their friends, they were inspired to do something different.
The three girls, who are in the same second grade class, were inspired to give by the story of Maggie Lee Henson who passed away at a young age several years ago. Bailey Apgar’s mother Cindy Apgar said the three girls asked their friends to donate toys and books to the school library rather than give them presents.
“Maggie Lee Henson was a vibrant 12-year-old girl,” Cindy Apgar said. “Her generous heart and compassion for others often prompted her to reach out to strangers and those in need. For example, she would often make her mom pull over to buy a hamburger if she saw a homeless person.”
On the way to youth camp, the bus transporting the First Baptist Youth Group had a tire blow out and Maggie Lee Henson sustained a traumatic brain injury and remained in a coma for three weeks before dying Aug. 2, 2009. Cindy Apgar said Maggie Lee Henson’s mother Jinny Henson is a close friend of hers.
Soon after Maggie Lee Henson’s death, Cindy Apgar said Jinny Henson started a Facebook group and website called Maggie Lee for Good. Family and friends of Maggie Lee pledged to get 1,300 people to sign up via the website and commit to one random act of kindness or good deed on October 29, 2009, in honor of what would have been Maggie Lee’s 13th birthday.
This story inspired the three girls to ask their friends to give to the library in Maggie Lee Henson’s name.
“I was surprised and overwhelmed by Annalise, Bailey, and Sofia’s generosity,” said IHM Librarian Sandy Wilson has worked for the school for 25 years. “One basket was filled with beautiful hardback and paperback books. The other two baskets were filled with items for my treasure chest and included everything from stuffed animals and notepads to a fantastic assortment of toys.”
Cindy Apgar said Wilson goes above and beyond to give to her students—even stocking her “treasure chest” full of toys to motivate children to read throughout the year.
“She’s figured out compelling ways to motivate kids to visit the library in the summer,” Cindy Apgar said. “It’s quite unexpected and fascinating to hear my daughter in the middle of the summer say, ‘Can I please go to the library today?’ We are grateful to her for all she does to instill a love of reading in our children—for a love of reading at an early age provides a solid foundation for success in school and in life.”
Wilson said the books the girls donated will be placed in the library and the toys will be used for her accelerated reader program. The three girls said the main reason behind the donation was to give back to their librarian in hopes that someone would notice and do something similar.
“I like presents, but I like making somebody happy even more,” Annalise O’Connell said.