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.

The Times-Tribune - - BRIEFLY - BY FRANK WILKES LESNEFSKY STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: flesnef­sky@timessham­rock.com; 570-348-9100 x5181; @flesnef­skytt on Twit­ter

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.

JA­SON FARMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Aubrie Calle­jas, 7, cel­e­brates as the first Kid Cru­sader dur­ing a party Fri­day at the Wild­cat in Arch­bald.

JEZUIT

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