Just think of the visions that dance in a young girl’s head on her seventh birthday.
Barbies, teddy bears, Disney movies.
Josie Fink wants those things, too. She just wants something else a little more.
In the days leading up to her recent seventh birthday, Josie didn’t talk about what she could get. All she could think about was what she could give to help others in need.
“I just started to think about it and talked to my mom about it and I decided I wanted to give clothes and toys and games to people who might not have those things,” said Josie, a second-grader at Meadows Elementary School in Ralston. “It gives me a good feeling to help.”
Josie put the word out at school that she was collecting gently used clothing, toys and games for children and their parents who might not have the comfort of a roof over their heads, a book to read or a game to play.
The response was a flurry of donations.
Classmates brought in items by the rack-, box- and bagful to be donated to the Lydia House, a women and children’s shelter in Omaha, and Empty Tomb Church, an organization helping the needy throughout the metro area.
Josie’s mother, Andrea Fink, gets emotional about it when she thinks of someone so young with such a depth of spirit and openness of heart:
“She’s amazing. She’s just a very giving child. When Josie came to me and said, ‘Mommy, I have everything I need, I want to help other mommies and babies,’ it moves you. She’s got a heart of gold.”
Josie’s message resonated with her peers and her teacher.
Stephanie Stohlmann, Josie’s second-grade teacher, said her students have been focusing their social studies lessons on being good citizens and fulfilling the unwritten contract of helping one another to build a stronger society.
“When we relate those lessons to the everyday, this is what happens,” Stohlmann said. “I’m very proud of Josie. ... This is what it means to be part of a community. This is what being a good citizen looks like.”