LAKE WORTH, Fla — A 12-year-old Palm Beach County girl is leaving the top spot on her Christmas wish list for the less fortunate, despite her own challenges.
Between the bells, bows, and bracelets, you don’t have to sit down long with Shannon Hayes to guess what her favorite holiday is.
"I like all the happiness that it brings from December 1st or the end of Thanksgiving. You just feel that Christmas spirit," Hayes said.
For Hayes, a big part of that spirit is, of course, like other 12 year olds, about family, and gifts.
Her Christmas list includes hair accessories and gift cards, but there are also a few items on there that set her apart from other kids her age: donations to foster organizations and animal rescues.
"They’re just trying to hang on there, and I feel like giving them something to entertain them or something to pass the time will make them really happy, will help them enjoy their time as much as they can even though they’re in a hard situation," Hayes said.
It’s clear Hayes is no stranger to hard situations. She was born with superior mesenteric artery syndrome, leaving her paralyzed. Her mother and caretaker, Lymarie Bergallo, said Hayes was also born with a kind heart and this Christmas is no different.
"When I saw that she wanted to help other people that made me happy," Bergallo said.
Bergallo contacted the Friends of Foster Children of Palm Beach County organization where Hayes' wish touched even more people who said there’s no doubt she’s inspiring.
"The fact that she’s 12 years old and has her own struggles and still wants to make sure that other children with different struggles know that they’re cared and loved for by someone else, a stranger, she’s a stranger to them, that heart is amazing and it’s going to carry her through her whole life," said Martha Putnam with Friends of Foster Children of Palm Beach County.
So what started out as a couple lines on her Christmas wish list soon turned into a box of donations and in just under two weeks a tree full of presents.
Bergallo said as Hayes gets older there's less and less holding her back.
No matter your condition what your situation is you can always do something for someone," Bergallo said.
Hayes hopes her message lives beyond Christmas.
"It’s not just about making the people who receive your gifts happy but it’s also about making the people who hear your story happy," Hayes said.
To learn more about Friends of Foster Children of Palm Beach County, click here.