BEEKMANTOWN — Helping others has become a tradition in the Estes family.
“For the three years that I was a team captain for Relay for Life, Emily was by my side,” Carol Estes said of her 11-year-old daughter. “She was my little assistant.”
But Carol wanted to give Emily a chance to have a project of her own that would make a positive impact on others.
“We don’t give kids the opportunity to help other kids as often as we should,” she said. “I said, ‘Come up with a way to change the world, even if you only change the world for five people.’”
A couple of days later, Emily returned to her mother with her idea. She wanted to have a party, but instead of guests bringing presents for her, they would bring toys to donate to the U.S Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.
“I know a ton of kids aren’t going to get toys this year,” Emily said, and she figured her idea could help bring joy to at least some of them.
Carol called the local U.S. Marine Corps recruiting office to pitch the idea to Sgt. Robert Helmstetter.
“He was pretty amazed” that such a young girl had had such a big idea, she said.
Helmstetter will be attending the fundraiser, she said.
Even Emily seems to be in awe of the project.
“On TV, I’ve heard about people like this (who raise money for others), but they’re usually a year or two older,” she said.
Originally, Carol had planned to host a 20-person Toys for Tots party at her home in Beekmantown, but as the effort progressed, she realized she was going to need a bigger venue. And in just three days, Carol was able to secure one: the Blue Room of the Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall in Altona. A friend recommended she give that establishment a call after she was turned down by three other venues because they were booked.