A University of Tampa freshman is taking holiday giving to a new level.

  • Ray Mohler started the Little St. Nick Foundation in 2003
  • At 6 years old, Mohler collected toys for kids in the emergency rooms
  • The foundation has helped children in New York, Florida and Missouri

Ray Mohler started the Little St. Nick Foundation in his home state of New York when he was 6 years old.

It all started with a trip to the hospital.  

"I was able to leave after eight hours, and on the way home thought about all the kids that were still in the hospital," said Mohler. "I never really realized how many of kids are in the hospital and have to stay there for a long period of time."

The realization got Mohler, whose birthday is Christmas Eve, thinking.

"I gave half my birthday/Christmas gifts to the hospital and then the next year I went around collecting toys and donations from people in the community with my parents,” Mohler said.

But it didn’t stop there. By 2003, Little St. Nick Foundation was up and running. The foundation donates toys, puts together emergency room kits and helps make hospitals more kid-friendly.

This year, Mohler has had to balance school work with the charity. He said it got a little hectic at times, but relied on volunteers and family members to make sure everything is ready for this Christmas.

He is heading back to New York next week.

Mohler said his next goal is to spread the foundation to other states, including here in the Bay area.

A segment on the Little St. Nick Foundation that aired on Nickelodeon earlier this year inspired a 12-year-old boy from St. Louis to start an arm of the foundation.