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Girl, 6, Collects $900 for Hopatcong Sandy Victims

Mackenzie McCluskey saddened over devastating images of storm's aftermath on TV, decides to donate her piggy bank money and start a fundraiser.

All it takes is one person to make a difference.

Mackenzie McCluskey, 6, learned that lesson at an early age, and is now helping the Hopatcong victims of Hurricane Sandy from all the way in Colorado.

McCluskey, a first-grader in Broomfield, Colo., was saddened over the devastating images of the storm aftermath when she watched NBC's benefit several days after Sandy, and knew she wanted to help in some way.

"She was really upset, just seeing the images, people whose homes were gone," Mackenzie's mother, Alyssa, said. "So she came up to me and said she wanted to give her piggy bank money because the Red Cross was asking for donations on the TV."

Alyssa McCluskey said her daughter knew $10 wasn't enough to buy a house, and started asking others to chip in.

She went door-to-door with her mother to her neighbors, reached out to friends and family, and made a YouTube video, asking people to match up her donation.

"If everybody sends a little it all makes a big difference," she said in the video.

Word spread quickly, and in just two weeks, her first $10 donation from her piggy bank turned into $925.

Alyssa McCluskey, who said her daugther initiated the fundraising idea on her own, said she was surprised at how much money they were able to collect.

"I was really shocked by how much she raised," she said. "I'm extremely proud, and I hope that it's the beginning of what she can bring to the world."

Alyssa McCluskey said she knew she wanted the money to go somewhere in New Jersey, but she wasn't sure where.

"I was looking around and asking people if anyone had family in New Jersey, so we could do something more personal than just have her deliver to the Red Cross, so that maybe she could see the direct impact," she said.

Alyssa McCluskey said her sister had heard from her friend, Donna Geary, about the devastation in Hopatcong because she has family there.

Alyssa and Mackenzie met up with Geary, and Geary offered to bring the money to Hopatcong when she traveled there for Thanksgiving.

Geary hand-delivered the money to Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo on Tuesday. Petillo said she had tears in her eyes when she received the 6-year-old's donation.

"I was so touched," she said. "I was in tears that someone who didn't know us felt compelled to take some type of action to help the people here. The love attached to that money will give people hope they didn't have before."

The money came with a simple note from Mackenzie that read, "Dear friends, I am really sorry that the hurricane hit your house. I hope the money will do some good."

And the money will do good, as it will go towards the Hurricane Hopatcong - We Hit Harder benefit on Sunday, that will help the three borough families who lost their homes from the storm.

Petillo said the donation brings hope, as it shows that people all over the country are willing to help those still suffering from the storm aftermath.

"I believe that the outreach, the benefit and then this child's giving is going to actually bring a sense of hope, community, and knowledge that they're not alone," she said, "and I hope that makes a difference as we rebuild."

Tina Lawrence December 01, 2012 at 02:19 AM
God Bless you Mackenzie! You are an amazing young lady!
Jean Burk-Ujvary December 01, 2012 at 01:12 PM
To Mackenzie, your family and everyone in your town that collected money to help my town Thank you so much. We are a small community and on the shores of a beautiful lake. If you and your family ever make it out to NJ come on down to Hopatcong and we'll save a seat on the boat for you!
BeachBum December 01, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Awesome! Great Job Mackenzie & Thank you
Wendy Sutton December 02, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Awesome!
Lake Resident December 02, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Awesome - what a terrific caring little girl!!!

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