December 14, 1998
Kelsey White (right) and her friend, Rachel.
Photo courtesy of Donna White.
by Deborah Stone, features writer
Kelsey White enjoys all the activities for a normal twelve-year-old, including socializing with her friends, playing baseball, going snowboarding, and rollerblading. The Bear Creek Christian sixth grader is also an avid reader, an accomplished flute player, and a straight A student at school.
What distinguishes Kelsey from many other kids her age is her giving spirit. For her twelfth birthday, this past November, she decided to have a non-standard party.
"I realized that I have so much stuff and I didn't need to get any more for my birthday," explains Kelsey. "I wanted to do something different instead of the usual party activities, so my Mom and I brainstormed some ideas. We thought it would be nice to help others who are less fortunate than we are."
Kelsey ended up inviting her friends to spend the money they would normally pay for her gift on Thanksgiving dinner for a needy family. Twenty of Kelsey's friends, enthusiastic about the "different-from-normal" birthday party, met at the Redmond East QFC store at 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20, to go shopping for food for a large Russian family and a small Hispanic family. The families were found through a contact at the Whites' church. The Russian family had eight children and the Hispanic one had two.
At QFC, the girls arranged themselves in teams armed with shopping carts, lists of items to purchase, and calculators. A total of $395 (which included money from several girls who were unable to come, plus a check for $25 from a friend of the family who wanted to encourage Kelsey) was donated and used to buy groceries, diapers, and some other miscellaneous items.
QFC's manager generously donated two turkeys to the families. The girls delivered the food to the Russian family that evening, and Kelsey and her mother brought the Hispanic family their food two days later. At the house of the Russian family, the group was greeted and welcomed with open arms.
"They were so happy to see us," said Kelsey, "and the kids were all dressed in their best clothes. They invited us in, served us apple juice and Russian sweets, and then the children sang us a song in their language. It was very special."
Kelsey's mother, Donna White, agrees. She says, "It was very emotional for me, and I was so touched by how the girls interacted with the Russian children and how grateful the family was for the food."
White is very proud of her daughter and her daughter's friends for their enthusiasm in helping others.
"It was wonderful to see how excited the girls were to help and I was so impressed with their attitudes," comments White. "It's a welcome change from the 'me-ism' that is so much a part of our culture. This type of behavior should be commonplace in our society."
Kelsey echoes her mother: "It's what everybody should be doing, giving to others who need help."
The Whites are planning to continue helping these two families, and Kelsey's school has also become involved and wants to adopt the families.
White has few fears about the kind of person her daughter will turn out to be. She says, "Kelsey is caring and compassionate, and these qualities are so important to making one's life meaningful."