By Ken de la Bastide
A 13-year-old Kokomo girl is opening the hearts of many people by purchasing gifts for the patients at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
In 2012, Courtland Cottle, a 7th grade student at Maple Crest Middle School, helped deliver more than 1,500 toys to the children at the hospital.
But this was not the first time that Cottle chose to forgo Christmas presents for herself in favor of gifts for the less fortunate.
Danelle Cottle said four years ago her daughter said she didn’t want presents and the money to be spent on assisting the homeless in Howard County. Her request extended to grandparents and other family members.
“I felt like God said to me to help out those in need,” Courtland said during an interview with the Kokomo Tribune last year. “One day I told my mom that really I had everything I needed and that there were other kids who maybe wouldn’t be getting anything for Christmas.”
When a friend of Danelle Cottle’s son was diagnosed with Stage III liver cancer, Courtland’s effort shifted in 2011 to fulfill the Christmas wises of patients at Riley.
“She asked if we would bring toys for the kids in the hospital,” Danelle Cottle said. “Everyone wanted to be involved.”
Riley officials told the Cottle family there was a bigger need for donations in the summer months.
Since her father, Shane, is a regular at Kokomo Speedway and with USAC, a toy drive was started with donations collected during Sprint Week from the race track owners, team owners and drivers.
Cottle said more than 1,000 toys were delivered last July and $3,000 was collected.
The Christmas toy drive brought in another 750 toys for the patients.
“We were just going to focus on the July drive,” Cottle said. “But more and more people were asking when we were going to start collecting toys.”
Cottle said there will continue to be a toy drive in December and another in July. The hope is to make the July toy drive the larger of the two.
In addition to the toys for patients at Riley Hospital, Courtland has collected travel size containers of personal hygiene items and donated them to the Ronald McDonald House.
A not-for-profit organization is in the process of being formed to be called “Courtland Cares”.
Cottle said her daughter is very unselfish and quiet, but is one the biggest toy donors to Riley Hospital.