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Jul9Fri… you change the world, as Raelyn and her family demonstrate. July 9, 2021 by Ellwood Shreve
A family conversation about helping homeless people inspired a Chatham, Ont., girl to become a champion for the impoverished, helping collect food and money donations for The Salvation Army—and a pandemic wasn’t going to stop her.
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- Faith & Friends
A Big Heart
Eleven-year-old Raelyn Drew, along with help from her parents, Jen and Randy, and little brother, Johnathan, seven, has been making annual donations since 2017.
When Raelyn was six, she innocently asked during a conversation about helping the impoverished if the family could give all of their money to the homeless.
When Jen suggested they could perhaps do something else to help, Raelyn came up with the idea to have a lemonade stand to collect donations.
That first lemonade stand in 2017 raised $300 and collected 10 boxes of food.
In 2018, her stand raised $900 and gathered four boxes of food. Another lemonade stand that year raised $200 for The Salvation Army’s annual toy drive, earning Raelyn an honorary induction into the Chatham-Kent Harley Owners’ Group for her big heart.
In 2019, Raelyn was curious how much food the more than $700 raised at the lemonade stand that year would buy, so the family teamed up with Real Canadian Superstore to deliver five full shopping carts of food to The Salvation Army.
When COVID-19 hit last year, Raelyn and her family knew they couldn’t do the lemonade stand due to pandemic restrictions, so they put out a call for help and organized a drop-off and pickup food drive, collecting $425 and 20 bags of food.
Raelyn’s uncle, Scott Burke of Lally Kia, got the auto dealership involved, raising another $340.
This past May, the family donated a vanload of food, as well as $250 in grocery store gift cards, to the Salvation Army community and family services office in Chatham for its food bank program. The donation included food and money collected from pickup and drop-off locations in Chatham, Blenheim and Wallaceburg, Ont.
When asked about the source of the donations, Raelyn shyly replies, “From people.”
Overcoming the challenges of COVID-19, the Drew family adopted the motto: “When life gives you lemons, you change the world.”
Raelyn never imagined five years later that she’d still be collecting food and money for The Salvation Army.
But she likes doing it because “it’s helping people and it’s fun.”
“It was amazing to see the younger generation want to step up and help the community,” observes Allie Matthews, manager of the Salvation Army community and family services office.
She adds that as many people are experiencing their own time of need right now, Raelyn is continuing to help out any way she can.
Reprinted from Chatham Daily News, April 30, 2021
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