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No gifts, but it was a birthday to treasure

January 02, 2001

No gifts, but it was a birthday to treasure



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Carrie RishellCarrie Rishell celebrated her seventh birthday on Dec. 29 with a swimming party for 54 people at the Hagerstown YMCA, but not one of the guests took her a present.

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At Carrie's request, the partygoers took canned goods and cash for the Community Food Bank. In all, 275 cans of food and $75 in cash were collected.

"I was watching Rosie O'Donnell win a lot of money on a show about becoming a millionaire and I told my mom how nice it would be to have all that money to spend," Carrie said Tuesday from her Cavetown home.

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Donna Rishell, Carrie's mother, explained to her daughter that the money wasn't for Rosie, but would go to charity.

Once Carrie realized what charity meant and that there are people less fortunate than she, she came up with her idea.

"It was a wonderful thing for a youngster like Carrie to do," said Beth Stouffer, director of the food bank at St. Mark's Lutheran Church.

The donated cans of food were delivered to the food bank over the weekend and will greatly help during the lean times that follow the holidays, Stouffer said.

With her parents' blessing, Carrie planned the swimming party at the YMCA and requested that her guests bring canned goods or monetary donations instead of presents for her.

She invited her sister, Maggie, 8, and brother, Steven, 4, other family members, her friends from Old Forge Elementary School and her church.

"We made sure that Carrie understood that she wouldn't be getting any presents for herself and she was OK with that," her mother said.

Understanding the needs of the underprivileged is a valuable lesson taught in the Rishell family, according to Donna Rishell, who said she and her husband Dan emphasize that concept to all three of their children.

Carrie said her first experience of giving back to the community won't be her last.

"I think I will do it again," she said.

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