'Humble' Invercargill sisters' incredible surprise for kids in hospital

Invercargill sisters Bailey (left) and Aalyah with the presents they donated to Southland Hospital.
Invercargill sisters Bailey (left) and Aalyah with the presents they donated to children in Southland Hospital. Photo credit: Jason Gutteridge/Facebook

Two Invercargill girls are being hailed as heroes after donating all their birthday presents to kids in hospital.

Sisters Aalyah Carnie, seven, and Bailey McMurdo, eight, hosted a shared birthday party on Sunday December 17. More than 30 gift-bearing guests attended the party, but Aalyah and Bailey didn't keep a single present for themselves.

Instead, they donated the gifts to the children's ward of Southland Hospital, a place to which Aalyah is no stranger after being treated there several times for asthma.

Her granddad Jason Gutteridge says Aalyah wanted to give back to the people who helped her when she was sick.

"She wanted to do something for them because they've done so much for her," he told Newshub.

Mum Mikaela Gutteridge says Aalyah came to her with the idea first, then got Bailey in on the plan.

"She said she wanted to make the kids in hospital happy, and maybe her toys would do that."

Mr Gutteridge says Aalyah and Bailey weren't persuaded by adults to donate their presents, nor did they go looking for praise for their selflessness.

"They just did what they needed to do, they didn't go around telling everyone. They were just humble about it."

The community rallied around the sisters' idea, with Fernworth Primary offering to host a disco on school premises for free. Guests from both girls' schools showed up with armfuls of gifts, including books, jigsaw puzzles and teddy bears.

After the party, the toys were taken straight to Southland Hospital's playroom, which Ms Gutteridge says is Aalyah's "favourite place in the entire world".

"It's probably even better than Disneyland."

She says hospital staff members were "ecstatic" to receive so many donated toys, as were the children currently staying there.

"Bailey kept saying, 'I'm so happy, did you see their faces?'"

Ms Gutteridge says her daughters love helping others for no other reason than "watching people's reactions".

"The girls had smiles the whole entire day. I was so proud of them."

Mr Gutteridge says the girls were raised to be thoughtful and help other people, but he was astonished by their generosity.

"It's quite inspiring for a seven- and eight-year-old to do something like that."