Ten-year-old Lainy Baxter must not have received the memo.
“This year I turn 10,” read Lainy’s blurb on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s website. “I’m very thankful to be healthy and have a great family and friends. For my birthday I want to celebrate by doing something special for others. Please help me reach my goal by supporting the kids of St. Jude.”
The original goal was for Lainy to raise $1,000. Her mother, Laura, reminded Lainy $1,000 was a lot of money. The final amount astounded the family when it doubled the original goal.
“The point was to give in lieu of birthday presents,” Laura said. “She wouldn’t normally get $1,000 worth of birthday presents, but she said she really thought she could do it.”
Friends, family members, and anonymous donors gave to the cause. A link set up through Facebook was repeatedly shared by loved ones. Lainy told her friends and teachers at her school. Money continued to be deposited into the account.
Several times a day Lainy asked her parents how much had been collected. Laura and David, her father, finally cut the information flow off. They wanted the final amount to be a surprise. Lainy waited with growing excitement.
“I felt like this year she got more excitement out of what she was doing than the anticipation of gifts,” Laura said. “Usually when it is time to open presents it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s time for presents.’ She was really more excited about this than any gift ever.”
Donations soon exceeded the once-lofty $1,000 goal. Laura and David watched in awe as the number climbed toward $2,000. The final donations came in as the Baxters walked through Tako Yaki’s door.
“We went out to eat for my birthday,” Lainy said. “I was so anxious to hear the amount and Mom said, ‘Lainy, you didn’t raise $1,000, you raised $2,080.’ I just couldn’t stop smiling.”
A large smile graces Lainy’s face. She is still clearly excited from the cash drive’s success. According to Lainy, the idea began with a song.
“There was this song on the radio and it said, ‘We can make a change from New York to L.A.’ I was listening to it and I liked it. I wanted to make a change.”
The song is called NY2LA by the Christian band, Press Play. The lyrics spoke to Lainy while she was driving in the car with her mom. Turning to Laura, she told her mom that is what she wanted to do: make a difference.
“It was cool because Press Play has a Facebook page and they shared her link to St. Jude’s website,” David said. “They found out about the cause and advertised.”
The family then brainstormed about how Lainy could accomplish her birthday wish. Ideas were tossed around, like a clothes drive, before St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was selected. Lainy enjoyed the idea of families being helped by the money raised.
“As a parent, my heart just burst with pride and my eyes just filled with tears,” Laura said. “We are trying to instill good values in her, so I was very excited and happy to realize maybe some of that had caught on.”
David said family members try to practice good, Christian values every day in their home. These values included how to treat others and how to love others every day, no matter what. It seems to be a mixture of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you,’ and ‘Turn the other cheek.’
Experience shows these lessons are hard to learn, but, according to her proud papa, Lainy is a straight-A student in the field of consideration and love.
“She will pray with her friends at school,” David said. “She has been a real shoulder for her friends. Lainy doesn’t ask for anything. She just wants to do and help.”
Both Laura and David are heavily involved with their church, the latter being a licensed minister, and the former a children’s minister. They carry out their Sunday lessons in their daily life.
“We have very strong faith,” Laura said. “We believe God is our everything and we try to teach Lainy the same through example. We have a very loving church family who we enjoy doing activities with.”
Lainy never thought to raise money on her own before. This first-time experience has been so invigorating and successful she is eager for round two. Right now she is considering heading a clothes drive for children in Haiti.
Rest assured this 10-year-old going on 80 is taking time to enjoy her childhood. Lainy enjoyed “The Hunger Games” movie (she is not old enough to read the series) as much as the next kid. Saving the world is occasionally put on hold for a good “Goosebumps” read, as well.
The Baxters said they send their thanks to everyone who was a part of the St. Jude experience. Lainy received the gift of knowing others cared and shared in her vision.