NOLANVILLE — The parade of boxes, overflowing with coloring books and crayons, was never ending at the Rentas home on Saturday.
When siblings Josiah Rentas, 11, and his younger sister, Cariel, 10, and little brother, Xavier, 8, came up with the idea to collect coloring books and crayons for McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White in Temple, they didn’t expect the response they got.
“Our doorbell kept ringing and ringing and people just kept giving us coloring books and crayons,” said Cariel about their Colorful Christmas fundraiser. “If we were out somewhere people recognized us and gave us more coloring books.”
Through various collection and drop-off points, the threesome collected 515 coloring books and more than 300 boxes of crayons.
“We were shocked. People just didn’t give us one they gave us a lot at once,” Josiah said. “It’s nice to see that people really do care.”
Children who are the Rentas’ ages don’t typically spend a lot of time doing charity work. However, the Rentas children spend much of their own time in the hospital due to a rare disorder, Hermansky Pudlak Syndrome. It is a bleeding disorder with ocular albinism, making them all legally blind.
Since they know firsthand how it feels to be confined to a hospital bed, unable to go to the playroom or even get up from their bed, they said coloring helps them forget where they are and pass the time.
“As a parent, I am so proud of them and what they have accomplished,” said their dad, Caleb Rentas, adding he was proud to see them thinking of others instead of dwelling on their own needs.
“Most kids their age are selfish and it’s all about what they want for Christmas. When we asked them what they wanted (for Christmas), they all said to help others, and that’s how this all got started.”
Next-door neighbor Colleen Smith said she passed out fliers at work and the donation box she set up at her church was filled three times.
“They are just great kids,” she said.
Since the fundraising effort kicked off last month, mom Lyzzette Rentas said the donations came in steadily and boxes at the drop-off locations were filled to the brim.
“I am surprised at how big this ended up being and how many people have come together to help us surpass our goal,” she said of their original goal to collect 150 coloring books and crayons. “There are no words to express how grateful we are.”
The Rentas kids will deliver the items to the hospital on Christmas Eve.
“We just want to make the kids in the hospital happy,” Cariel said.