Community rallies around family after cancer diagnosis; now 12-year-old girl paying it forward

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — About five years ago, MaKenzie Childress’ brother, Ricky, was diagnosed with leukemia.

He was in and out of the hospital for 46 days during treatment before he eventually went into remission. Luckily, the family’s community came out in full force to get them through that time with food, gift cards and even a benefit in his honor.

Now, MaKenzie, 12, is taking all the generosity shown to her family and is paying it forward.

About five months ago, she started MaKenzie’s Helping Hands. She collects necessities like toilet paper, canned goods, diapers, wipes, clothes and more so she can help the homeless and other community members who need help getting by.

She also set up a GoFundMe account to collect donations to purchase some of the items.

This week, she’ll assemble ‘blessing bags’ filled with those essential items and distribute them to the homeless.

“I started MaKenzie’s Helping Hands because…I wanted to give back to the people who helped me and my brother and help the homeless have food and give them what they need, because if I was in that place…I’d be thankful,” said MaKenzie.

MaKenzie’s mom, Margaret, said Ricky, now 10, is still in remission, and all of his numbers are great.

“Honestly, it was one of the worst experiences of our lives, but we had a lot of love within our family and community, so that’s one of the reasons MaKenzie is doing what she is doing,” she said.

MaKenzie said in the future, she hopes to be able to continue her work even after getting a full-time job.

Her mom isn’t surprised at her generosity.

“MaKenzie has always had a big heart, so I’m very, very proud of her,” said Margaret. “I’m thankful that she’s awesome.”

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