CHILDREN TO THE RESCUE
A 7-year-old girl who raised nearly $1,500 to help keep a charity alive earns the first Kid Crusaders award for extraordinary commitment to the community.
ARCHBALD — Aubrie Callejas was all smiles Friday night.
The 7-year-old received the inaugural Kid Crusaders award at the Wildcat Saloon and Eatery in the Sturges section of Archbald after she raised nearly $1,500 for a local charity in August. When Aubrie’s mom, Maribeth Callejas, told her that Jenny’s Kloset — which provides food and clothing for children in need in the Valley View School District, was running out of money — Aubrie asked her mom if she could have a lemonade stand.
Eight gallons of lemonade later, the second-grader at Valley View had raised enough money to cover Jenny’s Kloset’s food delivery expenses for six weeks, founder Tina Jezuit said. Jenny’s Kloset is an offshoot of Cancertacular, which Jezuit started a decade ago to support children with cancer. She was partly inspired by her own childhood battle with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer. “We were down to our last six weeks,” Jezuit said about Jenny’s Kloset. “She doubled that.”
At the time, the charity was delivering food to 35 local families every two weeks, she said. Now, that number has grown to 64 families. The organization also stores a selection of donated clothing at each of Valley View’s four schools. If students show up at school with torn or dirty clothes, they “replenish the kid’s wardrobe,” Jezuit said.
Inspired by Aubrie’s willingness to help, Jezuit started Kid Crusaders — a monthly award given to one child for doing something extraordinary in their community, she said. She plans to distribute application forms to nominate children at schools, medical and dental offices, dance academies and other locations. The only requirements are that the children live in Lackawanna County and are younger than 15.
Tracey Dempsey, a third-grade teacher at Valley View, sees firsthand how Jenny’s Kloset helps students and their families. Along with her son, Colin, 8, the two joined about 150 others throughout the night to celebrate. Colin, who has been friends with Aubrie since they were toddlers, helps his mom pick up boxes of food and deliver them to families in need.
Dempsey praised Aubrie’s lemonade stand fundraiser, saying she was surprised at how many people showed up.
“We were at the fundraiser . ... We couldn’t even get a parking spot. It was amazing,” she said.
Although the event celebrated Aubrie’s work for the community, it also celebrated a momentous day for Jezuit — 30 years of being cancer-free.
On Friday, framed on a stage by two large, golden balloons shaped like a 3 and a 0, Jezuit praised Aubrie’s efforts, giving her a trophy and a bouquet of flowers.
As Aubrie excitedly took the stage amid a round of applause, she had a simple message for the crowd. “I would like to keep on helping Jenny’s Kloset,” she said. “Now let’s party.”
For information on Kid Crusaders, visit Jenny’s Kloset on Facebook.
Aubrie Callejas, 7, celebrates as the first Kid Crusader during a party Friday at the Wildcat in Archbald.