NOLANVILLE — 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.
Through various collection and drop-off points, the threesome collected more than 500 coloring books and more than 300 boxes of crayons.
“It’s overwhelming,” Josiah said. “It’s nice to see that people really do care.”
Children their age don’t typically spend a lot of time doing charity work.
They aren’t typically blind, either.
The Rentas children spend a lot 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.
Caleb said he was proud to see the 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, 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 box she set up at her church had to be emptied three times.
“They are just great kids,” she said. “I’m not surprised to see them doing this. Whenever they aren’t feeling well, they bake with their mom and they always ring our doorbell to share whatever they have made.”
Since their fundraising effort kicked off last month, mom Lyzzette Rentas said the donations came in steadily and the boxes at the drop-off locations were full 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 hope to deliver the items to the hospital on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and they are already brainstorming their next fundraiser.