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Middle schoolers lift spirits of children at hospital through 'Positive Focus'

(Ashley Boles, NewsChannel 12 photo)

GREENVILLE, Pitt County - More than a dozen middle school students took a bus ride filled with presents on Tuesday. It's part of a project they've worked on for the last month called Positive Focus.

"It makes me feel like I'm actually doing something for my community instead of being an outsider," said Selena Martinez, an eighth grader at H.J. Macdonald Middle School in New Bern.

Feeling like an outsider is something many middle schoolers face. Martinez knows that feeling, which is what many children at the James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital in Greenville feel as they can't be at home to celebrate Christmas like everyone else.

"Dealing with anxiety in the school was very bad because I always thought I'd never be able to break out of it," Martinez said about her experience.

She eventually broke out of it through student council, a group that works together throughout the year. She was part of the group that loaded up the bus and headed to Greenville to lift the spirits of the children there.

"So often we hear of students at this age being only concerned with themselves so to see middle schoolers really put in the work and the effort to collect money and to bring in toys really warms my heart," said Pami Reese, the principal at H.J. Macdonald.

Reese has overseen the Positive Focus Project since Thanksgiving, which is when students began collecting toys and a lot of money.

"Since we're only middle schoolers I thought we'd only make like close to $900 but I was pretty shocked to see that we made close to $2,000," Reese said.

It's all going to the children's hospital for patients and their families spending Christmas in the hospital.

"What a wonderful world we actually are living in where young students are actually thinking of others and not themselves," Reese said.

For Martinez and many others student council members -- many who have never visited a hospital before -- the project has put a lot into perspective.

"Figuring out that I could help people through everything and try to make a little difference in this, I figured I'd rather make myself stronger," Martinez said.

Every member of the student council is now also part of the New Bern Police Department's Future Leaders Program.  

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