Cindy Tyler …How does a kid who won’t even be old enough to get a job for five years raise more than $500 for charity? Eleven-year-old Kaylie Cruz could tell you it’s a piece of cake. Well, lots of pieces of cake, and some cookies and a whole bunch of pumpkin pies.
Kaylie didn’t want a birthday party and presents this year, but instead wanted to give back to the community. “I had Guillain-Barré syndrome when I was younger and a lot of people helped me,” Kaylie explained, “and I wanted to help someone less fortunate than me.”
Photos by Cindy Tyler
Kaylie’s nine-year-old brother, Richard, helped her cook up the idea, and the whole family got involved. Mom, Nicole, makes it clear that Kaylie was definitely in charge. “She was even bossing me around,” she said. With the help of her parents, her younger brothers, her grandmother, and members of the Hope Church congregation, Kaylie organized a huge bake sale which was held at Hope Church on November 5. They had so many baked goods that they wouldn’t fit on the tables they had set up and they had to just keep replenishing the tables to make the best use of the space. What didn’t sell there went to work with Grandma Cindy the next day, and she brought in another $100 from her employer.
Vista’s Operation Hope was chosen to be the recipient of Kaylie’s generosity, and she presented her donation to Nicole Ketcher, Operation Hope’s Resource Development Manager, in a brief ceremony on November 30. “It’s truly amazing,” Ketcher said, “So heartwarming and inspiring! Operation Hope was founded on volunteers and community involvement, and it’s really great to see that in someone so young. I’m overwhelmed – in a joyful way.” A KUSI camera was on hand for the presentation and Kaylie handled her TV news debut with great confidence as she explained how her birthday project came to be. “I just really wanted to help people,” Kaylie said into the camera.
“I’m so proud of all the work she put into it,” Kaylie’s mom said, “And all of the people who came together and helped make it happen.” This isn’t Kaylie’s first project. Last year, she filled a barrel with toys for Toys for Tots. Richard plans to celebrate his tenth birthday with a beach clean-up project.
Operation Hope is a year-round 45-bed shelter for single women and families with children. They’re operating at full capacity with more families on a waiting list. “Of all the different places Kaylie could have helped, she chose our families and our children,” Ketcher said. She further explained that the money will go to serve those families, to give them confidence, independence, stability, self-esteem, and to let them know they’re not alone. “Our goal is to break the cycle,” Ketcher concluded.
Following the presentation ceremony, Operation Hope thanked Kaylie in a most appropriate way – with a cake. Which she immediately shared with all of the shelter’s residents.