Family finds purpose from heartbreak

Grandparents donate hundreds of gifts to children in honor of deceased granddaughter

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Wethington’s basement used to be a “man cave.” Now, the pool table is covered with baby dolls and playhouses. Tricycles and toy trucks are stacked to the ceiling.

“We lost our basement and Haley took it over,” said John Wethington.

John Wethington began "Haley's closet" following the death of his infant granddaughter.
John Wethington began "Haley's closet" following the death of his infant granddaughter. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Eighteen years ago, the collection started in the closet. “Haley’s closet” was a place to keep the Christmas presents John and wife Vickie never got to give to their new granddaughter.

“It’s hard to think that a newborn little baby could change so many people,” said Vickie Wethington.

Vickie Wethington said what started as a small donation of the toys purchased for Haley, has grown over the years.
Vickie Wethington said what started as a small donation of the toys purchased for Haley, has grown over the years. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Haley was born in December 2000 with T-13. Most babies with the condition are miscarried or stillborn.

“We got her for four days which was a real gift, it took me a long time to realize that because four days wasn’t enough for me,” said Vickie.

What started as a small donation of the toys purchased for Haley, has grown over the years into an all-consuming project for the Wethington’s.

A portion of the present purchased by John and Vickie Wethington for Haley's Closet.
A portion of the present purchased by John and Vickie Wethington for Haley's Closet. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

They spend 11 months of the year fundraising and shopping for gifts to give to kids in need. In honor of Haley, thousands of children have had presents under their trees.

“If there’s such a thing as something good happening to losing a grandchild, I guess this is it,” John said.

The Wethington’s start shopping January 1 and look for every bargain they can.

Plenty of baby dolls, playhouses, tricycles and toy trucks are part of this year's Haley's Closet collection.
Plenty of baby dolls, playhouses, tricycles and toy trucks are part of this year's Haley's Closet collection. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

“I could probably tell you what a Barbie doll costs in every store in Louisville,” said Vickie.

With over 50 bikes to give away this year too, the totals up to $12,000.

More than 50 bikes have been purchased to give away this year.
More than 50 bikes have been purchased to give away this year. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

The Wethington’s will take the presents to Fern Creek Highview Ministries who give them out to the children.

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