By Sharon Aron Baron
Throughout December, students at Xceed Preparatory Academy’s Coral Springs and Weston campuses collected and donated 164 new toys for children in area hospitals in partnership with the nonprofit Smith Smiles.
The toy collection was organized by Tracy Smith, president of the nonprofit, who is also the head of school for the Coral Springs campus of Xceed Preparatory Academy.
Smith Smiles was created after Tracy’s daughter Gracyn was hospitalized and her son Zakary noticed that many of the toys were broken or missing parts. He offered to donate his birthday gifts to replace them, and the organization was born.
Before Christmas, 150 of the toys donated by the XPA students were delivered to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation by Smith and her children Zakary, Gracyn, and Ari. The remainder of the toys will be donated, along with additional toys collected during the XPA’s Kendall/Pinecrest campus drive in January.
The Toy Donation Drive was a natural fit for XPA, as students at all four of its campuses frequently participate in community service projects either on their own or in groups.
As each of her students walked in with items for the Smith Smiles Toy Donations Drive, Smith said she couldn’t hide her own smile — that is, behind a protective mask.
“Seeing that my students believed in my family’s nonprofit means so much to me,” she said. “I even bumped into one student at the store purchasing a toy during our collection week. I tried to play it cool, but inside I was mush. Knowing that he was taking time to select a toy for our cause was incredibly special to me.”
This type of empathetic leadership is not lost on her XPA students, as Smith often slips them encouraging notes. She knows every student by name and keeps track of their classes and progress.
“As I tell our students and my own kids, ‘When one person makes a ripple in the world and the more we join together, the bigger the wave we’ll make,’” Smith said.
Located at 3301 N University Dr #110 in Coral Springs, Xceed Preparatory Academy has other campuses in Weston, Kendall/Pinecrest, and the DME Sports Academy in Daytona Beach. XPA is an accredited private school serving grades 6 through 12.
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