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A Beautiful Way to Help Children

Susan Notes: Usually I don't post this sort of story. I try to stick to the site's purpose: resistance to high stakes testing and No Child Left Behind.

A story like this can cause us to increase our resistance. Every child should know Miss Rumphius, and those doing scripted curriculum and test prep skill drill aren't going to meet her. Literature can provide avenues to help us grow to be better people. Deprive children of this, and the health of our society is at risk.

Kaylee's first-grade teacher at Wellfleet Elementary School, on Cape Cod, had asked the class to write about how they would make the world more beautiful. Kaylee, 7, wrote that she would buy toys for sick children. Then, she told her parents, who had adopted her from China six years ago, that she actually wanted to do it.

"She said, 'We're going to sell lemonade,' " recalled Kaylee's father, John Wallace.

That's how Kaylee raked in more than $850 to buy toys that filled several large boxes, which she and her parents delivered to a playroom in Children's Hospital yesterday. The toys will be distributed to the hospital's several playrooms.

The writing assignment that inspired Kaylee was given after her class read "Miss Rumphius" by Barbara Cooney, a story told by a young girl about her great-aunt, who scatters flower seeds around the world because her grandfather had told her when she was little that she needed to do something to make the world more beautiful.

Kaylee wrote her essay in March and began selling lemonade when school ended.

"My dad had to help me pick out boys' toys," said Kaylee, who loves to twirl herself around her parents' arms and look everyone she talks to straight in the eye.

Kaylee spent her Saturdays and Sundays selling 25-cent plastic cups of lemonade -- sometimes homemade brownies and chocolate chip cookies, too -- at a stand from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Briar Lane in Wellfleet, just outside her grandparents' house.

"It was a good spot," Kaylee said.

But business was slow at first.

"On the first day, no one stopped by for the first five minutes," said her mother, Margie Wallace. "But then we had regulars and other people who drove by. They didn't even have to stop. It was like a drive-through."

Kaylee began selling in June, and after seven weekends she had more than $850. Some of it came from people who donated money when Kaylee told them why she was selling lemonade, and some came from those who sent checks to the Wallaces after reading about Kaylee in an Aug. 6 article in The Cape Codder, Kaylee's parents said.

The Village Toy Store in Brewster also donated $200 worth of toys, the Wallaces said, adding that they visited other toy stores until all the money was spent.

Then, the Wallaces borrowed a station wagon from a relative and set off for Boston, where Kaylee would finish what she set out to do.

Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

— Sofia Santana
Boston Globe


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