Topsail student-athlete gives back to his community during the holidays

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HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY)–Instead of spending his Christmas like an average high school student, Topsail senior Johnathan Ward gave back instead.

Ward started his “Operation Change a Life” hurricane Florence relief project back in early December. During that time he raised nearly $800 and collected almost 300 gifts to give back to those in his community during the holidays.

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“I just wanted to make an impact on the community. I know during hurricane Florence it was really devastating to some families. I just wanted to figure out a way to cheer the kids up,” Ward said.

Ward plays football and basketball and is on the Pirates Track & Field team. Before the Christmas break Ward put on a toy drive at his own basketball game when Topsail hosted Jacksonville in hopes of collecting more gifts.

“It’s been amazing. I’ve had so much help from everyone in the community, from twitter to facebook, with people spreading my message. I had a great Christmas, but the biggest gift was giving those kids an awesome Christmas,” Ward said.

Ward received so many gift donations that he even had a few left over after Christmas day. He took the extra presents to the Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.

Ward will be graduating from Topsail High School in the spring, but wants to continue giving back as long as he can.

“I just want to lead by example. Hopefully someone sees what I have done and they pass it on. Just try to bless other people like I have,” he said.