Girl's Christmas letter inspires community to help

Bart Barker - CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - Caroline Watts, a nine-year-old girl from Clarksville, has one Christmas wish. Her wish is for people, including herself, to step up and help feed the hungry and homeless.

Watts is a 4th grader at Carmel Elementary School in Montgomery Co. She helped organize a canned food drive for families who were in need this Christmas. However, her efforts came as no surprise to her principal, Rosanne Sanford.

"Sweet, kind, strong academically and just a happy girl. She greets everybody in the hall. Everybody knows Caroline," Sanford says.

And many more are getting to know Watts after a letter she wrote last month. She sent letters to school principals, and anyone else she thought could lend her a hand. In those letters she asked for help, so others do not go hungry. But to do this, she needed canned food items, and lots of them.

Sanford added, "For Caroline to do this at this time of the year is just indicative of her true nature."

One of the people who got a letter from Watts was Austin Peay Middle College Principal Melissa Champion. She says the impact was instant.

"Any educator will tell you, we learn more life lessons from children than we ever teach. Caroline's was a life lesson."

The letters then hit social media and that's when the cans really started to roll in. Manna Café ministries in Clarksville was the beneficiary of the huge donation of canned goods.

Watts was recognized for her selfless efforts at her school's Christmas program.

But Caroline's idea came at a time that wasn't very convenient for her family.

"We had a lot going on at the time, so probably not as positive a reaction from me as it should have been," said Caroline's father Corey Watts.

However, Corey's reaction was justified. To say he had a lot going on was an understatement.

"My wife has been sick for a little bit and dealing with some medical issues," Corey Watts said. "So we have been in and out of the hospital from time to time."

Caroline's mother has been receiving chemo treatments at Sarah Cannon Cancer Treatment Center in Nashville. Amazingly, that's where Caroline's inspiration to help came from. She looked out a window, saw a disabled homeless person on the street, and decided to make a difference.

"Every time I visited the hospital, I really felt bad for the people but I felt even worse because he was in a wheelchair and had an umbrella and I wished I could just help him," says Caroline Watts.

Though her mother's prognosis is still unknown, she has been well enough to come home this holiday season. That's something that Caroline and her family aren't taking for granted.

Caroline said, "It's just really good to have her back because I only got to see her maybe a couple times a week at the hospital, which is not my ideal place to see her because she means a lot to me and I love her."

With gifts and gadgets on the minds of many children her age this Christmas, Caroline's Christmas wish is all about humanity.

"Every Christmas you get toys and it's just the same thing but if you never try something new then nothing new will ever happen," says Caroline. "I decided that I wanted to help and had the opportunity to help, I should take it."

Caroline's efforts have been a solid reminder for her father and so many others.

Corey Watts says, "It's a very proud moment to know where her priorities are. One of the great things about that is it helps you internalize your own priorities. You get caught up in all the things that are going on and the hubbub of the season, she kinda helps bring it back into perspective for you."

Caroline is hopeful that her giving spirit continues to spread to others this Christmas season and beyond, no matter what day the calendar says it is.

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