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BGA student raises thousands for nonprofit providing holiday gifts

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A Battle Ground Academy student raised over $5,000 in 2020 for end-of-year gifts for Middle Tennesseans in need, and he’s already got his sights set on more in 2021.

Finn McConnell, a seventh grader at BGA, has always had a servant’s heart, according to his mother, Fran McConnell. He has volunteered with Room in the Inn through their family’s church for years, but this year, COVID-19 put a damper on those efforts.

“This year, [he is] unable to help because he is only 13, and COVID is preventing those under 16 from volunteering in person,” Fran said.

In 2019, Finn decided to raise money for another nonprofit, the Last Minute Toy Store, run by Highland Park Church and local United Methodist Churches in partnership with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and other local organizations.

“I wanted to help kids that couldn't afford the best Christmas, but with [the Last Minute Toy Store], they would,” Finn said.

The nonprofit aims to provide gifts for families in need who may have missed deadlines or other opportunities to shop through other organizations that help local families make Christmas a little more fun. In 2019, Finn raised $1,500 for the nonprofit and volunteered to help families find the perfect gifts.

This year, because the pandemic made him unable to do as much in person, Finn had a lofty goal.

“He was discouraged because he cannot physically volunteer, so he decided he would try to double his donations from last year,” his mother said.

Finn raised well beyond double, reaching about $5,200, which bought enough toys to fill a small U-Haul.

“I started collecting money through Venmo and dollar donations,” he said. “I wrote letters to people who donated last year and asked for another donation this year. Then we put a few messages on my mom’s Facebook page asking for donations.”

After raising the money, Finn was able to go out and buy gifts and some household necessities to donate to the nonprofit so families could get not only what they need but some of what they want for the holidays. Finn said he feels good knowing he may have helped many families have a better Christmas.

He enjoyed his service so much he intends to continue his volunteer work for the Last Minute Toy Store in future years. He's looking forward to hopefully serving in person again this Christmas.

To learn more about the Last Minute Toy Store, visit LastMinuteToyStore.com.

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