As a 7-year-old girl, Emily Estes was an angel in disguise. And now, as a 12-year-old, she is still an angel.

Showering others with blessings is what she does through her annual toy drive, which she supports by collecting aluminum cans and newspapers throughout the year with the help of her family, her friends at Ovilla Christian School, her church family at First United Methodist Church in Waxahachie, members of the Kiwanis Club and people in the community.

Emily starts collecting cans and newspapers early in the year, allowing her ample time to recycle them and use the money to purchase toys in time for the Christmas holiday.

Once the toy drive ends, Emily starts collecting for the next year.

This year, Emily has collected about $250 through the community’s support of her efforts.

“People give a lot of toys, newspapers and cans to support my drive,” she said, noting that most of her donations have come from readers of the newspaper.

“When people read about what I’m doing in the newspaper, they tend to donate more and more,” said Emily, saying she was motivated by the thought of helping less fortunate children.

“My mom would always tell me that I need to be grateful for all the toys I have and that I should always give back to less fortunate children,” she said. “I just want to show other people how good it is to give to others. Whenever you feel that you don’t have what you want, you should think of these kids and how much they really don’t have and how much they really need and that’s why I started the drive. I just really feel good inside because I feel that I am doing great for someone else. Plus, it just feels really good to give.”

Her parents stand 100 percent behind their daughter, who they support in more ways than one.

“My mom helps me out a lot with the drive,” Emily said. “She takes me to buy the toys and she drives me to drop them off at her job at Therapy 2000 in Dallas. My dad also helps me out a lot because he takes me to recycle the cans and the newspapers.”

Nancy said she is extremely proud of her daughter and her kind act of giving.

“I’m really proud of her efforts in collecting all the newspapers and the cans,” Nancy said. “I am really proud that she is putting other people’s needs ahead of her own and realizing that she has so much already, she knows she needs to give back as a way of being grateful for all the things she has.”

All of the toys purchased by Emily go to the Therapy 2000 collection of toys to give out to clients at Christmas. Therapy 2000’s mission is to provide home-based therapy and rehabilitation services for children and young adults with disabilities and developmental delays.

Emily’s efforts have been recognized by the people in the community, those who know her and by different businesses and organizations.

She received recognition from Kohl’s department stores through the company’s Kids Who Care Scholarship Program and was one of 1,400 kids honored nationwide for helping transform their communities through volunteerism.

“This contest was to recognize kids for their volunteerism in the community,” Emily said, saying she was also invited to speak at the Kiwanis Club in Waxahachie in 2007.

“At the Kiwanis Club, it was just a gathering where people shared their stories about their volunteering efforts in the community.”

“Emily has spoken in front of several groups, sharing with others what she’s doing through her toy drive,” Nancy said. “I’m just really proud of her being outspoken enough to let people know that there are other people who need help and also trying to get people to help her.”

To donate aluminum cans or newspapers, contact Nancy at 214-793-8091.

E-mail Chicarra at chicarra.dense@wninews.com.