Teen Lauches Annual Toy Drive

Home & Family, Hometown Heroes, People
on April 23, 2000

When Nick Schultz was 7 years old he gathered up a bag full of his toys and brought them to his mom. I said, What are you doing? recalls his mother, Julie Schultz-Hornbacker, of Columbus, Wis. And he said, These are the toys I want you to give to the kids who dont have any.

This act was the legacy of a sermon hed heard in church that November day. Nick Schultz is 15 now, plays defensive tackle on his high school football team, rides his dirt bike, watches auto races, and hangs out with his friendsbut he still delivers toys to any who need them in this town of 4,000. Soon after his first act of charity, Nick and his mother organized a community-wide toy drive and founded a group called Neighbors in Constant Care (NICC), which today delivers food, clothing, and household items to more than 300 people a year.

His mother handles administrative and financial aspects of the foundation, while Schultz delivers food and necessities after school and on weekends, organizing his friends to help. Emotional rewards are what drive Schultz, recalling the time he brought Christmas gifts to a young schoolmate.

When I came in there with presents, the sight on his face, I still remember it today. He got this big smilea mile wideand he was just like, Hey, thanks!

Schultz also delivers food to teen-age mothers and others in dire need.

Just seeing how they live, with a few blankets on the floor and a few boxes of macaroni and cheese well, we can get them on their feet, but its kind of up to them to do what they want. I always hope they can find some type of help and do what they want in life, he says.

NICC serves those who are missed by medical clinics and other social service agencies, according to Janet Sheeks, nurse for the Columbia County Division of Health. For example, the foundation helps people pay rent, find affordable medical care, and learn how to budget their money.

Julie will help them try to assess their bills, set up a budget, and do it from a self-help approach, Sheeks explains. You want to empower the client to do it for himself or herself. If you give them a handout theyll just be back for more. Shell give them coats or food if they need it, but she also tries to help them for the long haul.

The community has embraced the efforts of Nick and his mother. Churches, civic groups, businesses, and other organizations last December collected more food than ever and raised close to $2,000 for the foundation.

We can always find (what we need), and if not we can find somebody to purchase it from at a real low cost, says Schultz-Hornbacher.

As for Nicks involvement, Sheeks says he is an excellent role model.

To know that a little kid can do that much means that as an adult you can do at least that much, so I promote that in my own children. It would be a whole lot happier world if more kids were like him.