Bath girl, 7, keeps finding ways to help others
She also started her own charity at age 4, won a new bicycle to give away and was recently named Hometown Hero of the Year by Modern Woodmen of America.
Stewart Gates presented the award two weeks before Griswold turned 7.
“When I heard all the things she's done, I was impressed — and I was picturing a teenager,” he said.
Griswold donated half her $100 award to her school's playground fund and the other half to her charity that provides toys for children treated at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville.
“I started it because I wanted to help other kids who had to be in the hospital,” Griswold said.
She had surgery in 2009 to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. A special gift from her aunt and uncle, a striped monkey named Howard, helped her through the experience.
“Every time I had to take my medicine, he would hold my hand,” she said. “He still sleeps with me.”
A few months later, Mackenzie told her mother she wanted to have a lemonade stand and buy toys for “boys and girls who need it more than I do.”
Her first lemonade stand was at the Woodsville/Wells River Fourth of July parade and raised $57 at 25 cents a cup. A friend matched the amount and local businesses discounted toys and books for Griswold's project.
Her mother, Trish, contacted Maryanne Aldrich, community relations director at Cottage Hospital, to help distribute the gifts and Mackenzie's Hope For Kids was born.
“We've had a lot of positive feedback through surveys and phone calls from parents,” said Aldrich. “The doctors talk about what a positive experience it is — it enables the nurse or physician to create a bond with pediatric patients.”
When Rachel Clough's family was in a car accident, her husband's injuries required treatment separate from the family and Rachel herself had chest injuries. Two-year-old Lydia bit through her tongue in the accident. A stuffed cat from Mackenzie's Hope became her hospital friend.
“It was painful to even hold my kids,” Rachel said. “It meant a lot for Lydia to have something to hold and cuddle and play with. That in turn made it easier for me.”
Griswold's charity is an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit funded by the now-yearly lemonade stand, car washes and private donations. The program includes books and handheld games, and they hope to add a gaming system soon.
Griswold didn't stop there. She recently raised more than $700 in a school fundraising contest to win a new bike specifically to give it to a classmate.
“Even though I didn't always want to go riding around in the car to get sponsorships, I did it for Donnie,” she said.
“When she sets her mind to something, she's going to accomplish it,” Trish said. “That's ingrained in who she is as a person.”
Lately, Griswold has been asking about soldiers missing their families. Trish and Aldrich said they're waiting to see what she'll come up with next.
“I think a large part of it is just who she is — she just loves people and helping others,” Trish said.
"She's a fabulous little girl — a very special little girl,” Aldrich agreed.
For more information about Mackenzie's Hope For Kids, contact the Cottage Hospital Community Relations department at email@example.com or 747-9707.
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Kristi Garofalo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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