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Her celebration is helping others

December 19, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG

marlob@herald-mail.com

Five years ago, Carrie Rishell decided to think of others on her birthday. That giving spirit continues as she approaches her 12th birthday this month.

That first year, Carrie's friends and family members gave canned goods and cash for the Community Food Bank of Hagerstown instead of presents to Carrie. In all, 275 cans and $75 in cash were collected.

That year and each year since, Carrie had a swimming party at the Hagerstown YMCA to mark her Dec. 29 birthday. This year, the seventh-grader at Smithsburg Middle School is opting for something a little different.

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"It's going to be a skating party at Starland this year on Dec. 30," Carrie said. "I like to roller skate, so it will be different from the past years."

Carrie tried to plan a movie party but that didn't work out, especially since she is inviting about 100 relatives and friends.

The Rishell family has rented the skating rink from 5:30 to 8 p.m. for the private party.

This year, all party participants will bring either 12 cans of food, other nonperishables or $12 in cash for the food bank at St. Mark's Lutheran Church. No glass items will be accepted.

Last year, everyone brought 11 cans of food or $11. The tally reached 303 cans and $235 in cash.

"It should have only been 302 items, but someone accidentally packed up my container of Milk Duds by mistake last year and they went to the food bank, too," Carrie said with a smile.

After the party, Carrie's father, Dan Rishell, and her grandfather, Lawrence Small, haul the food to the food bank in their trucks.

"This has been a really good experience for her," said her mother, Donna Rishell. Other friends have taken the idea and had benefits for such organizations as the library and the Humane Society of Washington County.

The seed for Carrie's project came from a television show.

She was watching Rosie O'Donnell win money on a game show and told her mother how nice it would be to have all that money to spend.

Carrie's mother explained to her that the money wasn't for O'Donnell, but rather would go to charity. Once Carrie realized what charity meant, she came up with her idea.

Carrie's sister, Maggie, 13, does her part by collecting stuffed animals and giving them to emergency services personnel to give to children who are injured or who become ill.

The Rishells also have a 9-year-old son, Steven.

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