2017-12-24 / Insight

Second-grade student hatches plan to adopt family for Christmas

810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com

Ellie Schroeder-Whitcomb, 7, of Mayfield Township is surrounded by gifts she and her family purchased through donations to a family they adopted for Christmas. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Ellie Schroeder-Whitcomb, 7, of Mayfield Township is surrounded by gifts she and her family purchased through donations to a family they adopted for Christmas. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese MAYFIELD TWP. — The spirit of Christmas is passed down from generation to generation, and for one family in Mayfield Township, a simple conversation about what the holiday truly means became the start of something special.

Ellie Schroeder-Whitcomb, 7, a second-grade student at Lynch Elementary School, posed an innocent but tough question to her mother Angela Schroeder, in the way that only children can do, about Santa Claus. Ellie wondered why Santa brings some kids lots of present, while others get less.

Angela answered that “sometimes Santa, with his magical powers, has to make sure families have their needs met before their wants.” This answer led to a conversation that according to Angela, sparked a drive within Ellie to make a difference. “We were discussing the meaning of Christmas, and how some kids aren’t as fortunate around the holidays as others,” she said.

It gave seven-year-old Ellie an idea. “She wanted to do something for families who didn’t have Christmas,” said Angela. Angela, a nurse, is also an amateur photographer, and through the determination of Ellie, the pair hatched a plan to raise money to adopt a family in need.

Angela told Ellie that “if she helps me put together a mini Christmas photo shoot, handle the props and position people for the photos, any money she earns she can use to adopt a family.” Angela arranged with a friend to hold a photo shoot at the end of November at a Christmas tree farm in Attica and set up appointments in 20-minute increments throughout the day. Ellie did her part. “She made sure all the families that came through were positioned correctly, she set up all the props, and after the photos she gave all the kids candy canes,” said Angela. In all, 15 families participated in the photo shoot, and Ellie raised nearly $500.

Angela, who had recently completed Mott Community College’s nursing program, knew how tough it was working through college, and inquired with Mott’s counseling office about any current students who could use a little holiday help and was paired with a single mom of two boys ages three and five, currently working her way through the program. “We were in a pretty tight situation a year ago, and we wanted to see everything go full-circle,” said Angela. “The counselor (at Mott) paired me up with a current student that’s graduating next month, and we were able to provide gifts for her little boys and some necessities.”

WIth the money raised through the photo shoot in hand, Ellie went shopping, visiting multiple stores looking for the perfect gifts. According to Ellie, shopping felt like it lasted an entire day, but she was able to purchase several toys and gifts for the family. This week, Angela and Ellie delivered the gifts to their recipient. “The mom was very thankful, she had tears in her eyes and Ellie’s eyes were watery, and she said ‘mom, that made my heart feel good,’” said Angela. “She’s gotten a lot of satisfaction from it and said ‘see mom, this is what it’s about, do good things and they come back around.’”

The experience has instilled a drive toward helping out others in Ellie, said Angela, and Ellie herself said she plans to do it all again next year. “I just feel really good about what I did, I think I want to do it every single year,” said Ellie. “I just felt really sad that if I saw kids waking up not having presents under the tree.”

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