WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) — 13-year-old Nolan Adams of Watertown doesn’t look a whole lot like Santa Claus, but their work is the same.

On Friday he is loading up a modern-day sleigh with presents destined for Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls. The teen started Nolan’s Project, which buys gifts for sick kids both at Sanford Children’s and Prairie Lakes Healthcare System in Watertown. For Nolan, this season is the reason for this giving.

“I think it’s just a great way to show the Christmas spirit,” he said.

He also brings up how giving is better than receiving. He explains that to him, that means thinking about others.

“Don’t be selfish, don’t be all about yourself, there’s other people who are struggling with things that you could always help with,” Nolan Adams said.

“He’s only 13, so getting to and from the stores, and I go with him to shop, and dad stays home and watches the two younger boys, so it’s kind of a family effort,” Nolan’s mother Trisha Adams said. “But it’s more driven by Nolan, and I feel like at this point, we’re his volunteers working for him and his project.” 

The family estimates that Nolan’s Project has bought at least 1,000 presents, with more than $14,000 raised since 2014. Talking to Nolan’s parents, you get a sense about where their son’s empathy and heart come from.

“You can imagine when you’re a kid and you’re sick, you feel terrible,” Nolan’s father Jason Adams said. “And that feeling’s the worst in the world, because you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“It gives us an amazing feeling knowing that we are doing something right hopefully, raising him, and we just hope that his two younger brothers follow suit and kind of have the same giving personalities that he does,” Trisha Adams says.

For Nolan himself, it all makes him feel as you might expect.

“It makes me feel really good and knowing that I’m doing something,” he said.