Little Saint Nick Foundation gives gift bags to kids in hopes of making hospital stay easier

For a child, going to the hospital can be a scary experience. One young man remembers it all too well, and that's why he came up with a way to make hospital stays for kids a little easier. 

When Raymond Mohler was four years old, he remembers waking up with pain in both his hips. 

"I couldn't walk, and I went to the hospital," Mohler said. "I had a very traumatic experience. Nobody was around with me, and I didn't take my mind off what I was going through."

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Mohler was diagnosed with a joint disease when he was just a boy, but he was fortunate to only have to stay for one day. 

"And when my parents told me kids had to stay for days or months or years, I couldn't believe that. So I kept thinking of ways that I could help these kids just because I had such a deep feeling of gratitude that I didn't have to be in the hospital anymore," he said.

At the age of five, Mohler came up with the Little Saint Nick Foundation as the solution. They provide handmade Christmas cards and gift bags for children in local hospitals. 

"The root of all of this, that's kind of taken on a deeper meaning than just myself giving is others giving," he said. "And even when kids receive a gift bag, they feel such a feeling of gratitude that they want to get involved after they're at the hospital healthy and make a card or pack a bag or do a drive."

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Liam Eisele, 7, also got involved and became an elf for Saint Nick. He got his friends to help him with a bag packing event, and they packed 121 gift bags for young patients at Morton Plant Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor. 

For Wil White, the mission is two-fold. 

"It's really awesome, and it's really rewarding to know that I'm getting to make a difference not only for the kids that are not feeling well in the hospital, but inspiring the youth of Tampa Bay to be service minded and to be able to give back for the rest of their lives," White said. 

Each bag costs about $10 to make and includes a coloring book, coloring pencils, a stuffed animal, a pop-it and a handwritten note.  

"It's so cool to see the older kids, younger kids all just come together, really embrace the giving nature of what we're doing and feel part of something bigger than themselves," Mohler said. 

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The non-profit has helped more than two million kids since 2004 by giving out 100,000 gift bags. Their goal next year is to help more than 50,000 kids.

For more information, check them out on Facebook or visit