At 10, York Country Day student an old hand at organizing charity drives

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
Jameson Shanabrough, 10, opens donations of toys at his Spring Garden Township home Sunday, May 16, 2021. Jameson has organized a toy drive to benefit children at Philadelphia's St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. The York Country Day School student is currently about 150 items short of the 1600-item goal he's set for the drive. Bill Kalina photo

York Country Day student Jameson Shanabrough had an unusual request a few years back for his birthday:

Instead of gifts for himself, he wanted to help others in the community through charity drives.

For his 11th birthday in August, Jameson wants his latest drive to be bigger and better than ever. And he's looking for help from the community.

This year's toy drive will benefit children at Philadelphia's St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. It's running until July 30, and Jameson wants to outdo the 1,600 items he collected last year for Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

Jameson's first charity drive was for the York County SPCA in 2018. 

"It kind of just snowballed from there," his father, Chris Shanabrough, said.

Jameson Shanabrough, 10, poses with some of the donations of toys at his Spring Garden Township home Sunday, May 16, 2021. Jameson has organized a toy drive to benefit children at Philadelphia's St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. The York Country Day School student is currently about 150 items short of the 1600-item goal he's set for the drive. Bill Kalina photo

Along with that charity drive, Jameson has been organizing toy drives for children's hospitals. 

"I'm doing this because I know how it feels to be in the hospital, and the cart came around to me in the hospital and it would just boost my morale," Jameson said in an interview last week. "I wanted to make sure kids in the hospital could also have a good morale like I did when they came around with toys."

When he was 2 years old, Jameson was bitten by a dog on the top and side of his head, requiring treatment at Johns Hopkins Children's Center for a week. He's recovered since then and still loves animals, which is why he chose the York County SPCA as his first recipient. 

Other recipients of Jameson's work include local charity Catholic Harvest Food Pantry, which helps provide food to families who fall within income guidelines.

"He brought it in in the middle of November, which is a really great time to get big food drives because it's Thanksgiving, and we have a lot more people to help out during the holidays," executive director Kris Pollick said of Jameson's effort in 2019. "He came in with 754 pieces of food, everything all in original boxes, everything all boxed up. Mom and Dad had to use their pickup truck to bring it all in." 

Pollick said she was extremely impressed with Jameson and his efforts. "To be able to have that much of a giving heart, to think of other people that he doesn't even know, that's just amazing in this day and age." 

Chris Shanabrough praised how Johns Hopkins treated his son after his injuries.

"Everything was catered to the kids in the children's area, they played games with him," he said. "He loved it there honestly, and it kind of kept his mind off of what was going on."

This year's drive is looking for toys, craft items, books, movies, gift cards and baby items to donate to the Child Life area at St. Christopher's. That department helps provide developmental education and support for patients and families while at the hospital.

"We want them to understand why tests are happening, what's involved in all of those tests and procedures," Child Life manager Hillary Israel said in an interview last week. "We want to be able to support them, provide some distraction to be able to make the experience a little more positive, not need to use as many sedative medicines because there's a different focus." 

Israel said the department helps make things less traumatic for the patients.

"We are honored that they chose this hospital to be this year's recipient, and it's a huge donation and a huge undertaking for them," she said. "This type of donation allows us to provide patients while they're here appropriate toys for them to play with, to help them reach milestones, maintain their developmental growth, and also allows us to have different items in the play room." 

Jameson Shanabrough, 10, and his father Chris open donations of toys at their Spring Garden Township home Sunday, May 16, 2021. Jameson has organized a toy drive to benefit children at Philadelphia's St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. The York Country Day School student is currently about 150 items short of the 1600-item goal he's set for the drive. Bill Kalina photo

Jameson's ambitions are high, but in just a couple of weeks his toy drive has received approximately 1,100 items. 

There are a variety of methods to make a donation. The family has set up a Facebook page that contains a Linktree for donations.  Other options include Cashapp at $ChrisShanabrough, Venmo at @nicole-shanabrough and a Target registry under Jameson Shanabrough. Items under that registry and an Amazon wish list will ship directly to the Shanabroughs. 

Also coming up as an opportunity is a June 20 "Cars and Coffee" event at Belmont Bean Co. in Spring Garden Township. The event will happen from 8 a.m. to noon. 

The toy drive began May 1 and is set to end July 30. The toys will be delivered Aug. 9. 

Chris and Nikke Shanabrough say they're extremely proud of what their son has accomplished.

"He is truly and humble and wants to make sure others have a smile on their face," Chris said. "We feel he is setting a great example for his little brother, other kids his age and people in general to always be kind."