Pride of the Pine Belt: Laurel family donates toys for a good cause

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Becky Sherman, of Laurel, welcomed her only child, Lanie, into the world four years ago, but five months after her child's birth Sherman recalls Lanie's health changing.

"Periodic bouts of fever and mouth ulcers, and we just didn't know why that was happening," said Sherman.

Sherman says doctors couldn't figure out the cause, and last August her condition worsened.

"I took her back to her pediatrician and she did blood work, which was the first time she had blood work in years. That's when they noticed her white blood cells were low and her neutraphils were low," said Sherman.

Lanie's pediatrician told Sherman Lanie had Neutropenia.

"Neutraphils are a specific type of white blood cells that specifically fights infection, and where as the neutraphil should be at 30 to 40 percent hers go as low as low as one percent. We have to be careful because it makes her susceptible to infection," said Sherman.

Lanie's doctor sent her to a hematologist at The Cancer Clinic at Batson's Children Hospital in Jackson. Sherman says Lanie's constant contact with needles was hard to watch, but the doctor's means of distraction helped.

"When they pricked her finger she got some bubbles. When they took her blood from her arm she got a teddy bear, and when we left she got a book," said Sherman.

After Lanie's visit in September, she went home empty handed. Sherman says she found out the clinic ran out of toys. That's when Sherman called on her friends and family to donate toys, not just for Lanie's sake, but for all the children at the hospital.

"When we went back on November second we had over 400 items with us," said Sherman.

The donation of toys poured into Sherman's home by Lanie's next doctor's visit.

"There was too many to count. We had to take two cars, and both trucks were filled," said Sherman.

It wasn't long before Sherman gave this endeavor a name.

"That is when sunshine popped into my head. I said, 'Lanie's Sunshine Box.' What we came up with was giving children a ray of sunshine to brighten their day," said Sherman.

Sherman says Lanie understands the purpose of the box, and why she has to visit the doctor so often. Lanie shared how she feels most days.

"Some are rainy,some are light," said Lanie.

Sherman added as long as people are willing to give to the sunshine box, she will continue to help make Lanie's and other children's days at the hospital a little bit brighter.

Sherman says anyone can donated to "Lanie's Sunshine Box" by going to the following locations:

Heritage Heights Baptist Church on highway 15 north in Shady Grove.

Artistic Treasures in downtown Laurel

Monkey Doodles Children's Consignment Shop