A Westhampton Beach High School student has brought smiles to underprivileged children through the collection of thousands of toys.
Emily Tully, a junior, has coordinated toy drives each of the past five years that have collected more than 2,000 items — ranging from children's books to stuffed animals — for the John Theissen Children's Foundation in Wantagh. She started her efforts as a seventh-grader at East Moriches Middle School and has continued them at Westhampton Beach, which she has attended for the past three years.
Tully, 16, said she was inspired to donate to the foundation after it gave $500 to a friend who had childhood cancer in elementary school. Emily's mother, Diane, also went to high school with Theissen, she said.
"I always loved giving back to the community; I've always considered myself to be like a helper," Tully said. Of the toy drives, she said: "Every year I see so much in the boxes, and it's always such a happy surprise to see how the community is supporting the foundation."
This year, Tully said she had collection boxes at four schools: East Moriches Elementary School, East Moriches Middle School, Westhampton Beach Elementary School and Westhampton Beach High School.
Tully is also a member of her school's chamber choir, Student Government, Interact Club, Junior Ambulance Club, and soccer and spring and winter track teams.