Just before her ninth birthday on December 13, 1992, Shauna Marie Winmill heard a letter read on the radio about a family that would have no Christmas. She knew by then that Santa was the parent, but she could not comprehend the notion that these children would get no toys.
She immediately and desperately wanted to help. Since her family did not have the means that year to just purchase toys, it was suggested to her that for her birthday she invite her friends and ask them to bring a new, unwrapped toy for a needy child. Never has a child been more excited about their birthday. She knew that she could now help.
That year, she took the donated gifts to a local fire station. The firefighters were so impressed with her generosity that they gave her and her friends the grand tour of the station and the fire engines. In 1993, she donated her birthday gifts to the Tustin Police Department’s Christmas program. She and the five friends she invited to her birthday party that year, brought stuffed animals, games and other toys to the police station.
As the years passed, Shauna’s family assumed that the gift-collecting would be just a one-time thing and that she would, like most other children, simply want her own birthday gifts. Instead, each year brought her more excitement and more desire to receive more toys for needy children. Shauna is now 17 years old and she has just completed her ninth year of collecting toys for needy children in lieu of ANY birthday gifts. During the nine years, she has collected more than 1,000 toys to donate.
So many teens say that they admire what she does, but could never give up their birthday presents. Still, she inspires these teens to donate for her cause. Others, including many adults, have thanked her for providing them with a way to give and help when they had not known how. This year, Shauna plans to start her own organization for collecting toys for needy children’s Christmas.
Many people look forward to Shauna’s birthday and presenting their toy donations. Equally many children have benefited from her caring generosity. She is a model in her community for all young people in setting an example of how small sacrifices can make a difference, and she is just getting started.