Kayleigh's special birthday
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Kayleigh Fenstermacher celebrated her ninth birthday by asking people to drop off food items to be given to a food bank and in return she gave them a cupcake.
Kayleigh Fenstermacher knew exactly what she wanted for her 9th birthday this year. When she told her mom, Ashley Fenstermacher, she was surprised, but very proud.
Kayleigh didn't want a birthday party and she didn't want any presents.
Kayleigh wanted to give, instead of receive.
Her school, Slatington Elementary, held a Pasta for Pennies drive to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Kayleigh threw herself into that cause and raised over $100.
"It made me feel good. I thought about that and I knew I wanted to do something for people who need food. So I told my mom that I wanted to do a food drive instead of getting presents for my birthday. I felt it was selfish to get presents when there are people who didn't have food to eat," says this very wise third grader in Mrs. Dibilio's class.
She didn't want a birthday cake either. Instead, she asked her mom if they could bake cupcakes so when people came to drop off food items, she could give them a cupcake in return.
"I thought it was an awesome idea. An hour later I went on Facebook and created an event for her," says Ashley.
They spread the word at Kayleigh's school and Peters Elementary School where her younger sister, Makenzie, 7, is a student, and to family, friends and neighbors.
So on Tuesday, March 26, there were bright colorful balloons floating from the porch at 512 E. Church Street in Slatington with a handmade poster proclaiming it was the location of Kayleigh's Birthday Food Drive, held from 4-8:30 p.m.
Everyone who dropped off food items received one of the eight dozen cupcakes Ashley made and beautifully decorated. There was a choice of Banana Split, Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies and Cream and Mocha.
From the food items collected, Kayleigh wants to provide a care package for two homeless men she sees in her neighborhood every day. Her mom plans to buy them each a can opener and some plastic utensils to add to their care package. The rest of the food will then be donated to the Northern Lehigh Food Bank.
Kayleigh and her family attend Bethany Wesleyan Church in Cherryville.
"I feel upset if I miss a Sunday," she says.
Kayleigh also attends youth group on Wednesdays.
"When I grow up, I want to be a youth pastor," she adds.
Her best friend, Daliah Shupp, helped Kayleigh set up for the Food Drive and was there to support Kayleigh on her birthday.
"Guess what she wants to do next," says Daliah.
"We want to have a clothes drive in the near future," Kayleigh reveals. "And when I'm old enough, I want to donate blood."
Her mother beams.
"Out of my three daughters, she's my mother hen. She gets very worried about others and feels responsible for them. I think she's a great role model for her sisters, Makenzie and Brynn (2) and for others," says Ashley. "I couldn't be more proud of her."
Her father, Bryan, agrees. "I'm very proud of her."
Kayleigh's food drive donations filled several boxes. Ashley's former boss from Wells Fargo donated money to cover the cost of the can openers, utensils and anything else that would be needed for Kayleigh's donation to the two homeless men.
When Kayleigh and her family gave their donation to the two men, one was "blown away. He was happy and said 'thank you' numerous times. The other man was ecstatic with his care package. He told my husband, Bryan, that he had a bad back so Bryan delivered it to the location where he sleeps," says Ashley.
Kayleigh felt very proud of what she was able to do for them.
"I don't think she realizes how much of an amazing thing she is did. She thinks of it as just another day. God bless her," says her mother.