ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - Some hometown kids won't get to spend the holidays at home this year.
Instead, they'll have to stay put at Carilion's Children's Hospital in Roanoke. But some local kids who've been in the same situation have worked together to give those children a Christmas they won't forget.
It's not Santa's sleigh.
But the SUV and trailer outside of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital filled with toys is the next best thing.
"There are from newborns all the way up to 18 year olds,” said Heather Dudley, pulling a cart full toys up an elevator to Carilion’s childrens’ wing.
Dudley knows this hospital like the back of her hand. And this delivery of thousands of gifts for the young patients her personal.
"I have a smile that won't leave my face," she said.
In February, her youngest daughter, Remi, was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia - her body stopped making red and white blood cells.
"She needed a miracle," Dudley said.
The Dudleys were at Carilion’s Childrens hospital weekly.
Because she knew how much a gift meant to her daughter undergoing procedures the Dudleys teamed up with a few other families who went through similar situations. With help from local businesses, churches and schools, their kids collected 3,750 toys, totaling more than $10,000.
Together, the families delivered the presents to Carilion Monday night – the kids wearing big smiles as they hauled the toys from the depths of their trunk.
While Dudley says these halls brings up some bad memories, they also bring just as many good ones.
Remi is doing well. She turns five on Tuesday.
She tagged along to help deliver the Christmas cheer. She’s getting along fine after learning her older sister Kiele is a perfect bone marrow match.
"I felt really good about saving my sister's life," Kiele said.
The group of families collected so many toys that Carilion staff will have enough presents to deliver throughout the entire year.
The Dudleys are thankful for the community's support and the ability to pass it on to other children they know will appreciate it.
“I could see the parents and see the kinds and know what they’re going through,” Dudley said, “and hope that what we did tonight allows them to take a sigh and to take a step back and make their journey a little easier."