Phi­lan­thropist in train­ing

Cupids girl fore­goes birth­day presents for dona­tions

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Birthdays are typ­i­cally the one time of the year when the day is com­pletely about the per­son cel­e­brat­ing.

There are presents, par­ties and cake all putting the em­pha­sis on the birth­day boy or girl. How­ever, late last month one young Cupids res­i­dent turned that idea on its head.

On Jan. 31, freshly turned sev­enyear-old Al­li­son Young made sure the at­ten­tion was squarely on those who need it at the Ron­ald McDon­ald House in St. John’s.

The young phi­lan­thropist re­quested her in­vited guests bring dona­tions for the house in lieu of birth­day presents.

“I asked them to bring snack items, Lysol wipes and that kind of stuff,” Al­li­son told The Compass in a re­cent in­ter­view.

To make it easy to fig­ure out what to do­nate, Al­li­son and her par­ents – Carl­son and Re­becca Young – in­cluded the house’s wish list on a web­site. Some of those items in­clude hair nets, scent free laun­dry de­ter­gent for ba­bies and iTunes gift cards.

“We got a re­ally good re­sponse from her class­mates and her friends and fam­ily,” said Re­becca. “It worked out re­ally well. It was a won­der­ful day.”

When the Youngs put ev­ery­thing on dis­play af­ter the 22 guests came and went, there was enough to cover a de­cent-sized fam­ily sofa.

“We had a good couch full of items,” said Carl­son.

The Youngs made the trip to St. John’s on Feb 7 ,and Ron­ald McDon­ald House gra­ciously ac­cepted the gifts.

“They were sur­prised and re­ally happy for the wipes,” said Re­becca. “We had 29 boxes of blue ones and one box of white ones,” added Al­li­son.

In the name of

But, what makes a seven-yearold forgo her birth­day presents for a list of items to be do­nated else­where?

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, Ron­ald McDon­ald House pro­vides a home-away-from-home for fam­i­lies of se­ri­ously ill chil­dren who are be­ing treated at nearby chil­dren’s hos­pi­tals. It is a place where fam­i­lies can be to­gether and kids can share ex­pe­ri­ences with oth­ers who are just like them.

Al­li­son de­cided to put oth­ers first in hon­our of fam­ily friends Peter and Ker­i­lynn Mercer. Their son Ethan, who has he­mo­philia, spent the first two weeks of his life in the Janeway Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal and the Neona­tal In­ten­sive Care Unit (NICU), and they stayed at Ron­ald McDon­ald House.

“Peter and aunt Ker­i­lynn went to the house and I wanted to help,” said Al­li­son. “It made me feel good.”

“It was a won­der­ful thing she did,” added her aunt Donna Fowler.

The Mercer’s re­ac­tion

When he heard of what Al­li­son in­tended to do for her birth­day, Peter was not all that sur­prised.

“We’ve al­ways known Al­li­son to have a very kind heart,” he said. “She re­ally has a heart like no other. How many seven-year-olds would do some­thing like this all on their own? “It was such self­less act.” It re­ally hit home for Peter, his fam­ily and other fam­i­lies in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions. The Mercer’s spent some time re­cently at the house in St. John’s.

“To her, it may have seemed like just a small ges­ture, but it means so much more than that to us,” he said. “It will def­i­nitely help a lot of fam­i­lies out. At any given time, the Ron­ald McDon­ald House can pro­vide a place to stay for up to 15 fam­i­lies. Al­li­son’s con­tri­bu­tions will cer­tainly go a long way.

“We know from first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence that peo­ple stay­ing there re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­thing that is made avail­able to them.” So­cial me­dia ex­plo­sion When sto­ries like Al­li­son’s get posted on so­cial me­dia th­ese days, they some­times take on a life of their own.

A photo of Al­li­son with her dona­tions shared to Face­book has gen­er­ated dozens of likes, a num­ber of shares and a host of com­ments com­mend­ing the young girl for the work she did.

“You’re an amaz­ing girl Al­li­son. So proud of you,” wrote Tara Thomp­son.

“It’s had sort of a rip­ple ef­fect,” said Carl­son. “It’s a pretty big deal.”

For the Young’s, this self­less act is noth­ing new for Al­li­son. She has done toll bridges in the past in mem­ory of the late Dale Gosse and has made pre­sen­ta­tions at the an­nual Trinity Con­cep­tion Pla­cen­tia Health Foun­da­tion.

“I have some­thing else in mind,” said Al­li­son when asked if she will do­nate else­where.

“I’m go­ing to raise money for the Janeway.”

Get­ting back to the party, all was not lost in the gift depart­ment for the young woman.

“I still got some presents,” Al­li­son said with a smile.

Al­li­son Young drops off her sup­plies for do­na­tion to Ron­ald McDon­ald House in St. John’s. In­stead of ac­cept­ing gifts, the birth­day girl from Cupids asked friends to bring items to her party that oth­ers could put to good use.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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