A Flood of Toys

After Hurricane Floyd caused the largest evacuation in U.S. history, Drew Humphrey, 7, saw hundreds of homeless kids on TV. "What will those kids play with now?" he worriedly asked his mom. Nothing, she replied -- the North Carolina children lost everything in floodwaters. That's when the West Virginia boy said he'd give them his toys, including his favorite "big Batmobile planes" and whatever he got for his upcoming eighth birthday. Enter the media: The Thomson newspaper group -- which owns two West Virginia papers, The (Beckley) Register-Herald and the Bluefield Daily Telegraph -- began writing about Drew. A $3,200 deluge of toys and money came from West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. Four Wal-Marts set up collection sites. On the day of Drew's birthday,
a police escort led two UPS trucks and a 12-vehicle convoy to where 300 kids waited for a share of 1,000 new toys. "It was like Christmas for those kids," says newspaper editor Frank Sayles, who helped hand out the toys. "And so many people greased the wheels, including the state police, who helped us breeze through the tollbooths."

That day, Drew's family also toured flood-ravaged areas. "Some people were crying," Drew says. "I prayed a little bit." His family adopted nine flood families and still continue delivering beds, socks, underwear and, yes, more toys. "We're just following up on Drew's idea," says dad Ken. "It's made us think a lot. My wife and myself, we're both teachers, but sometimes the kids, they teach us."

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