By Andy Rathbun Herald Writer
MONROE — The 6-year-old had a plan.
Abbey Aney would save her money for the entire year.
All of it would go into one of her piggy banks — the cash she raised from her lemonade stand and her birthday, the spare change she found on the sidewalk.
Before Christmas, she would spend it on toys, and then donate bags of gifts to the Sky Valley Food Bank’s Precious Packages program.
The Cornerstone Academy kindergartner wanted to help less-fortunate children.
“It makes my heart feel good that I’m buying toys for all these kids,” she said. “I just bet they really appreciate it.”
Abbey’s donation was delivered to the food bank a week before Christmas. She raised about $100 for the toy drive. Her mother spoke with a manager at the Dollar Tree to arrange a matching gift, allowing Abbey to drop off more than 300 presents.
Everyone credits Abbey with the idea.
“I have no idea where this comes from within her, but it’s there, and we’re not going to stifle it,” her mother Jodie Aney said.
Abbey first donated to the food bank’s toy drive in 2008, after she told her parents she wanted to help children in need. Her mother figured the food bank would be a worthy recipient.
That first year, Abbey gave about 50 items.
This year, she planned ahead.
She set up a lemonade stand at a garage sale. Neighbors heard why she was saving money. Some slipped her a few extra dollars when they bought a drink.
She told family and friends about her plan. She encouraged them to give her cash for her birthday.
By December, she had raised about $90. Her parents kicked in a little more.
Then the Aneys went to the Dollar Tree. Abbey knew she wanted to buy dozens of stuffed animals, mini-radios, baby blankets, fashion dolls, gum ball machines and board games.
Sonia Ohlde, a program coordinator with the food bank, said other kids drop off toys, but it’s usually a parent’s idea.
That wasn’t the case with Abbey.
“I’ve never seen anything where a little girl like her thought about it ahead of time, and saved up,” Ohlde said. “That’s just amazing.”
The donation was welcome. The food bank gives a few presents to each child — a large item and some stocking stuffers. It served more than 700 children this winter.
Abbey already is thinking about next Christmas. She might save even more money than she did this year.
“If I have enough, I can buy a lot more toys, so the kids can be really, really happy,” she said.
Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, firstname.lastname@example.org