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ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) -
A gifted student in St. Martin heard that many children in Afghanistan are poor and lonely, especially those who are hospitalized. So, he spearheaded a drive to bring some joy to their lives. He's doing it to help the children and to honor someone he misses very much -- his dad.
Furry lions, tigers, bears, even a dragon are sharing a classroom with some gifted students in St. Martin. The student who headed-up the drive to collect all of those stuffed animals is Tyler Latack, a third grader at St. Martin East Elementary School.
"The kids that are in Afghanistan where my dad is, they don't have any stuffed animals to hold on, and that's why we're collecting them," said Tyler.
Tyler's dad is Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Latack, a physician who is stationed at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Tyler wanted to help those children overseas who are hurting.
"His dad took care of a child that had a gunshot wound to the head, and he longed to be able to give that child something to cuddle, something to give him a little bit of comfort and he has nothing. That's why Tyler has been driven to do this," said Shannon Wilson, Tyler's gifted teacher.
When asked how the stuffed animals will help his dad, Tyler replied, "So the kids can feel happy. When they have to get surgery, they won't cry. They make them feel not lonely anymore."
So far, Tyler has collected more than 400 stuffed animals. The cuddly toys are supposed to arrive in Afghanistan by Christmas.
"What Tyler is doing I think is awesome for a third grader to make that kind of step, to show his dad the support. I think it will help his dad, bring a little bit of home to his dad in Afghanistan," said Wilson.
And Tyler is hoping to get his biggest Christmas gift this year, to see his dad again in December.
When asked what he would like to do when his dad comes home, Tyler smiled and said, "Fishing".
The toys will be shipped to Dr. Latack in Afghanistan next Friday. If you would like to donate a stuffed animal that's in good condition, just drop it off at any St. Martin school.
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