TROY — The enormous impact of a charitable spirit was recently proven by none other than 7-year-old Hailey Bechtol.
On Oct. 29, the Troy Christian first grader presented a cash donation of $106 to President Billie Ray and Vice President Jack Hoekstra at the Miami County FOP Lodge 58. The funds, which were entirely collected by Hailey herself, will be used for the annual Children Outreach Program and Services (C.O.P.S.) event, which the FOP raises money through donations year-round.
“We were in Florida this summer, and a homeless gentleman approached me to ask for money and food outside of the grocery store,” said Hailey’s mother, Nikki Bechtol. “I gave him some money, and as we pulled away, Hailey asked about what had happened. When I explained it, she then asked why I didn’t give all my money.
“Hailey said, ‘If I had money, I’d want to give him everything I had.’ We came home, and a couple weeks later, she decided she was going to raise funds and donate all the money she collected to give to kids for Christmas.”
“I just decided to do it to help the needy kids,” Hailey said, noting her goal was simply “to make them happy and help them have a Merry Christmas.”
According to her mother, Hailey began raising money for her project any way she could over the next couple of months.
“She lost a tooth, and saved all her tooth fairy money,” Bechtol said. “She asked if she could do extra chores around the house to earn some extra money. At that point, she was just trying to raise funds, but didn’t have anything specific goal in mind.”
Hailey said that some of the chores she did to earn money included “sweeping, dusting, doing dishes, and helping set the table,” and even included her own birthday money in the fund.
The idea of donating money to the FOP Lodge came when Bechtol spoke to Penny Hoekstra, who is closely affiliated with the lodge.
“I was speaking to Penny Hoekstra about the idea of what Hailey was doing, and Penny said, ‘I have a couple of connections and I’ll put out some ideas.’ She brought a few of those ideas to Hailey, and a donation to the FOP was what Hailey chose to do.”
Hailey’s donation will be used to purchase gifts and goods for families in need during a C.O.P.S. shopping event at Troy Meijer on Friday, Dec. 7. Hailey will be present at the event to witness her donations being put to use.
“It made me feel very happy,” Hailey said, on presenting the donation.
“I’m very proud of her and her generosity,” Bechtol said. “As a family, it has made all of us more giving during this holiday season. We’re going to be donating some of our presents to other families, and it’s just really opened up all of our hearts.”
Hailey has already begun raising funds toward a second fundraiser. She’s unsure of where the money will be donated, but “just knew she wanted to do it again.”
”This is something she’s already started,” Bechtol said. “She’s begun to gather for her next mission.”
Those interested in helping Hailey with her next fundraiser can contact the Bechtols at firstname.lastname@example.org.