Bringing a Smile to a Child's Face

Helen Clay is no stranger to philanthropy or to Central Carolina Community Foundation. In 1996, her parents, Henry and Emily Clay, started a fund with the Foundation. Fourteen years later, Helen started her own fund as well.

In early 2010, Helen Clay became the Foundation’s youngest fundholder. She established the Helen’s Hugs fund with the goal to build teddy bears year-round for patients at the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia.  

Since then, Helen has raised almost $27,000 from family, friends and local business, allowing her to build more than 1,000 bears. She delivers the bears to the patients herself and has brought smiles to the faces of many sick children.  

This story begins several years before the Helen’s Hugs fund. Helen, who was hospitalized for cancer, received a box of toys and treats from a young boy. When Helen learned that the teenage boy, who had also been in the hospital, made gift boxes for hospitalized children, she was greatly touched and inspired to follow his example.   

“I love giving to kids in the hospital because I know how a gift can make a bad day feel better,” Helen said. “When I was in the hospital receiving treatment for my cancer, I always appreciated getting gifts. I hope these teddy bears will lift the spirits of sick children and remind them that people care.”

For more information, visit the Helen's Hugs Facebook page.

Stories of Philanthropy