BY AMANDA CHRISTMAN
A pandemic Christmas tree ornament crafted by a 13-year-old Drums girl raised nearly $1,400 to help feed those in need this year.
And, she did it in a week.
Mickenzie Maguschak, Drums, was trying to find a way to reach out to others during this time of social distancing when she came up with the idea. She was also looking to fulfill community service hours needed for National Junior Honor Society and the Community Service Club at Drums Elementary/Middle School.
While scrolling through the internet, she and her mom eyed-up an ornament. It was a clear ball stuffed with a few squares of toilet paper that read: “In case of emergency, break glass,” a comedic nod to pandemic toilet paper shortages.
Maguschak said her mom, Lynn Eckrote, suggested making them and donating the proceeds to the CEO (Commission on Economic Opportunity) Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank. With a plan in place, they pulled out their Cricut vinyl cutting machine and went to work.
Once successful with the process, they posted the fundraiser on Eckrote’s Facebook and the results overwhelmed them.
“It was all on Facebook. In 12 hours we sold over 200 ornaments,” Maguschak, an eighth-grader said. “We had to take it down,” she said so they could keep up with the orders placed once the fundraiser was shared with friends. “But people still kept asking so we made almost 300 ornaments (by the time the sale ended).”
The family, with orders mounting, turned a floor of their home into a production line. Some of Maguschak’s classmates joined in, and her grandmother did, too.
“We got the whole household involved,” Eckrote said.
Aside from a 12-hour weekend work day, the ornaments were put together in between other responsibilities over the course of several days.
The kids worked like Santa’s elves in between virtual schooling and her mom and step dad chipped in on lunch breaks and at the end of their work days. The team included ornament stuffers, ribbon makers, vinyl letter appliers and, of course, someone to pack the ornaments into boxes.
Each ornament sold for $5 using mobile payment services like Venmo and Paypal. They even put up a link to the food bank where people could donate directly. Some orders traveled further than others via the U.S. Postal Service. Eckrote said they shipped ornaments to Arizona, Connecticut and Philadelphia.
While about 50 people chose to pick up their contactless order in Maguschak’s driveway, she and her mom also found themselves dropping off orders on porches, also without contact.
In total she raised $1,383.36 and presented the check to the food bank on Friday.
“People should never have to chose between food and another expense, especially around the holidays,” said Eckrote. “This year with the pandemic there’s an even greater need as so many are facing financial problems. People have had to leave their jobs because the kids are home; lifestyles have changed so much.”
Eckrote has had a professional tie to CEO for more than 20 years, and her respect for what the organization does was passed onto her two children.
“How wonderful it is that Kenzie is helping needy families facing hunger in our community by raising resources to provide less fortunate youngsters with nutritious food,” said Gene Brady, executive director at CEO.
Eckrote said the entire family was “overwhelmed” by the generosity of others, and said they may even consider an ornament fundraiser next year. They would certainly start a little earlier to keep up with demand, though.
Maguschak hopes she inspired others to help the community in the meantime.
“I’d like to see people do nice things during the holidays and the pandemic,” she said.
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