When Madisyn Wimple was just 6 years old, she had an epiphany more fitting of a wise adult. The little girl took a good hard look at her playroom and realized she had a lot of toys she didn’t play with anymore.
It was the catalyst for an idea that has since grown into one giant act of love and kindness not typical of today’s elementary schooler, but reflective of the giving heart of a child not yet turned cynical by the pressures of being a grown-up.
“I couldn’t figure out what I wanted for my 7th birthday, so I decided to look for a shelter to donate to. That’s how we found St. Jude House,” said Wimple, now 11 and a 5th grader in Crown Point. “I picked some of my toys to donate, but for that first year, I invited my friends from school to a birthday party and asked them to bring something from the St. Jude House wish list.”
Keywords: That first year.
The pile was small then, just big enough to lie at Wimple’s feet. But Wimple did it again for her 8th Birthday. And her 9th. And her 10th. And again this year, for her 11th. The house was full of toys, personal care items, baby care items, microwaves, blankets, cases of water, clothing, and more, completely taking over the living room and spilling over into the Wimple’s garage. A U-haul was required to deliver all the donations
St. Jude House in Crown Point serves as a safe shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and for their dependent children. Nearly 650 adults and children come to St. Jude House seeking safety and peace every year.
It was a bit of a heavy topic for a 6-year-old to comprehend at the time, but her wisdom shown beyond her years.
“My mom explained to me the kinds of things that happened and why they need help. I just tried to think about the positive things, like they are at the shelter, and they’re getting help. I didn’t really mind the fact that I didn’t have any presents because I knew that I was going to help someone else,” Wimple said.
Check out this breakdown:
Year 1: Family and friends donated at her birthday party, filling a small box.
Year 2: The Wimple family held the birthday/donation party again, but also distributed flyers in the neighborhood seeking donations. They filled a kitchen table.
Year 3: Wimple asked businesses to help, too, and she personally dropped off donation boxes for them to collect items. They filled an SUV for St. Jude House.
Year 4: More businesses and individuals contributed, at the party and otherwise, filling her dad’s SUV and her mom’s car.
Year 5: About 58 people attended Wimple’s birthday party, and the Wimples rented a 15-foot U-Haul full of donations from birthday party friends, family, and acquaintances from as far away as Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, California, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, and Michigan. Wimple’s family also helped her set up a social media presence, where people were invited to make direct donations to St. Jude House. They received $220 in gas cards, $285 in cash, and $155 in Facebook donations.
“What young Madisyn has accomplished over the past five years with her Spread the Love campaign has been such an inspiration for St. Jude House and the community,” Ryan Elinkowski, St. Jude House Director. “This young philanthropist is a shining example to all that the willing heart of one person can have a greater impact than ever imagined.”
St. Jude House Director of Development Buffy Adams highlighted the importance of campaigns like this.
“St. Jude House empowers their clients and children with the tools and resources on their journey to self-sufficiency in breaking the cycle of violence in their lives. Because all services and programs are absolutely free to our clients, this important work is only possible through the support of caring community members, like Madisyn, her family and all the generous individuals and businesses who participated in her campaign,” Adams said. “The need for additional community support continues to rise as St. Jude House annually serves an average of 650 adults and children and receives more than 1,600 calls to our 24-hour crisis line.”
Wimple said she also has been inspired to do good in the world by seeing and experiencing the kindness of others.
“Last year, our school bus had gotten into an accident I really hurt my back. Another student helped me off the bus and lead me to the nurse’s office,” Wimple said. “It was a really nice thing to do and I remember that.”
When she isn’t donating to St. Jude House, Wimple has her eyes on other needs in the community.
“During one of our garage sales, we set up a lemonade stand, and we raised money to get the fire department and the police department lunch. When I was little, I saw on the news that people don’t treat police and firefighters nicely, so I wanted to do something nice for them,” she said.
Wimple sees herself starting an official not-for-profit so she can continue to spread the love. She acknowledged she will need her mom and dad’s help with that part, but said she is committed to continuing to run the birthday party, distribute fliers, and invite more businesses to sign onto her Spread the Love project.
“I want to open a business that does stuff like this all the time – that collects donations for people who need it. It has taught me not to take anything for granted because other people might not have a lot,” she said.
For more information about helping with Wimple’s project next year, follow St. Jude House on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/stjudehouse/
St. Jude House and the Wimple family would like to thank the local businesses that donated and helped collect at donation drop off sites- US Foods, Pappas Restaurant, Cafe Fresco, Beacon Hill Dental, Key Nutrition CP, Danielle Bazin- Allstate and Trish Geyer- Allstate. Also, a thank you to LOCAL 219 for putting together a promotional video for the project.