AGOURA HILLS (CBSLA.com) — A $1,000 windfall is not much to some adults, but to an 11-year-old girl, that kind of money could mean a new gadget, new clothes or a whole lot of makeup.
But for Melissa Souza of Agoura Hills, that money was a chance to help others less fortunate.
“Some kids need things more than I do,” Melissa said as she dropped off $500 worth of toys at the CHiPs for KIDS kickoff event at the Studio City Broadcast Center Thursday. Melissa says she would like the toys to be donated to hospitalized children.
Over the summer, Melissa won a Radio Disney contest, receiving a trip for four to Charlotte, N.C., a chance to meet Ryan Seacrest, a $15,000 donation to his foundation and a $1,000 gift card to use at Walgreens.
“Well, I didn’t know what I was going to do with $1,000,” Melissa said. “But then, I just decided to give it to charity.”
Besides donating to the CHiPs for KIDS toy drive, Melissa also bought $500 worth of school supplies that she donated to needy children.
Melissa’s selflessness is not lost on the California Highway Patrol officers collecting toys for less fortunate children.
“I think it’s fantastic,” CHP Officer Leland Tang said. “Anyone at that age who thinks of others rather than themselves is also fantastic.”
Melissa’s parents, Caroline and Brad, say they are proud that Melissa is absorbing some of the lessons they are trying to impart.
“It is kind of something we discussed as a family,” Caroline Souza said. “To think beyond yourself is kind of our goal, to hopefully teach them to think beyond themselves.”
“We are very fortunate with everything that we have and so to be able to give back and to have her learn that lesson as well was really important,” Brad Souza said.
To donate a toy to CHiPS for KIDS, click here for a list of official drop-off locations.