Haverhill Teen Donates 30,000 Toys to Local Hospitals Through ‘Laps 4 Backs’ Charity

Haverhill teen Noelle Gregoire has donated 30,000 toys to needy kids. (Courtesy photo)

Haverhill teen Noelle Gregoire has donated 30,000 toys to needy kids. (Courtesy photo)

Haverhill 13-year-old Noelle Gregoire needs more hours in the day. Not only is the city teen a member of Whittier Middle School’s Academic Bowl and Model United Nations teams, she swims after school and makes time to visit her family’s lake house in New Hampshire. On top of that, Gregoire has a hidden passion: Donating toys to kids in need.

Gregoire was first inspired to give back four years ago as a 9-year-old undergoing treatment for a severe spinal condition at Tufts Floating Hospital in Boston. As mom Danielle Gregoire tells WHAV, Noelle was always invited to choose a toy after each doctor’s appointment, but became concerned when the toy closet at Tufts—funded by donations—became sparse.

Noelle Gregoire visits patients. (Courtesy photo)

“She came to me afterward and said ‘I want to swim across a lake and raise money to bring toys to the kids at the hospital.’ This is a kid who couldn’t do anything,” mom recalled. “You don’t want to say ‘No,’ but I said ‘OK, we’ll do it.’ The first year she did it, she raised $2,400 and used coupons and brought 4,000 toys to Tufts Floating Hospital.”

Noelle wasn’t just satisfied doing one good deed. She turned her initial fundraising effort into the Laps 4 Backs charity, which she and mom Danielle operate out of their home near Walnut Square School. She still swims to raise money each July.

The pair solicits toy donations throughout the year, making the majority of their toy drop-offs during the summer, when Noelle and her teacher mom are both off from school. They make a habit of scouring clearance sections, and never shop without coupons.

Since Noelle’s first toy delivery, Laps 4 Backs has donated 30,000 toys to kids in need at Tufts, Boston Children’s and Elliot Hospital in Manchester, N.H. Noelle makes a point of adding a new hospital to their donation list each year, she told WHAV.

She’s often able to interact with young patients during visits to locations like Tufts.

“When I deliver at Tufts, sometimes I’ll get a list of kids I can personally (visit and) donate a toy that they might like,” Noelle tells WHAV. “Just seeing their smiles on the kids’ faces cheers me up and keeps me going with this charity.”

Honored last week by the Boston Celtics with a “Heroes Among Us” award, Noelle is hard at work planning her charity’s next event, a May 6 fundraiser at Haverhill’s AmVets. Members of the community are invited to stop by 576 Primrose St., from 2-5 p.m. for raffles, food and crafts for kids. Admission is a new toy or $5.

To keep up with Noelle Gregoire’s Laps 4 Backs charity, search her out on Facebook or GoFundMe.