Family shares gifts in memory of loved one

Hannah Cook

ELKINS — A local family grieving the loss of a beloved 11-year-old girl found a unique way to mark her birthday — by accepting toy donations that will spread holiday cheer to underprivileged children.

About 200 new toys have been donated to the local Toys for Tots organization this year in memory of Hannah Nicole Cook, who lived in Weston and passed away in April 2014. To mark her birthday in August of that year and in the years since, family and friends have hosted birthday parties for Hannah to celebrate her life and try to do something to make a positive impact.

“I have a big family, and Hannah touched a lot of lives in her 11 years,” said Hannah’s mother, Jennifer Lemons, who now lives in Buckhannon.

Lemons said Hannah faced many health challenges, including cerebral palsy, and she was considered deaf and blind. When Hannah was born on Aug. 14, 2002, doctors didn’t expect her to live more than 10 minutes.

Hannah went on to live as full of a life as possible in spite of her health limitations. She enjoyed swimming, boating, camping and shopping. She attended Robert L. Bland Middle School and Stonecoal United Methodist Church of Weston.

The family had never donated to the Toys for Tots organization before, Lemons said, but Hannah loved toys that played music and lit up, and sharing toys with other children would have made her smile.

“I try to live a life now that I know she would be proud of,” Lemons said, adding she’s grateful that she has such a supportive group of family and friends who can make donations in Hannah’s memory.

“Even if it brightens one child’s day, it’s worth it,” Lemons said.

The local chapter of the Toys for Tots organization reaches children in Randolph, Lewis, Upshur, Barbour and Tucker counties and some areas in Harrison, Greenbrier, Pocahontas and Webster counties.

Regional Toys for Tots Chairman Roger Ware said the donations in memory of Hannah are truly appreciated.

“This makes a difference, and you can’t put a price on that,” Ware said.

Information about making donations or registering for the Elkins Marine Corps League Toys for Tots program is available by calling 304-636-4365 or 304-704-5758 between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information also is available online at www.toysfortots.org or by emailing to rrware@yahoo.com.

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