By Perry Schaible
NORWOOD - Kelsey Clarkson collected 350 teddy bears for her 10th birthday last January to give to needy children.
When she handed out the last bear during a skating party for abused and neglected children, Kelsey had one question for her mother: "What are we going to do next year?"
The answer, to no one's surprise, was to hatch an even bigger scheme: She has enlisted the help of the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks hockey team and their fans in her birthday-giving tradition.
Cincinnati Mighty Ducks mascot Buster puts the squeeze on 11-year-old Kelsey Clarkson at the Cincinnati Gardens.
(Michael Snyder photo)
For the fourth year, the Williams Avenue Elementary fifth-grader will donate the presents from her Jan. 13 birthday to less-fortunate children.
She will host her entire class at her special birthday party Jan. 17 at the Cincinnati Gardens when the Mighty Ducks host Milwaukee. She is selling regularly priced tickets to the game. The Mighty Ducks will donate $5 to the Foster Child Enrichment Council, a volunteer community group, for every $12 adult ticket Kelsey sells.
She is also promoting a toy drive to support the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, which works with the Foster Child Enrichment Council.
Kelsey's giving spirit has inspired many.
When she invited 30 people to her first "special" birthday party, she received 60 gifts to donate. Two years later, when she set out to collect 200 teddy bears, 350 took over the Clarksons' Norwood home.
"She's like that around here," said Rodney Clarkson, Kelsey's father. "If we're down to the last cookie, she'll make one of us eat it."
The idea to give away her birthday gifts came after a discussion about less-fortunate children between Kelsey and her mom, Kim.
"We taught her there are a lot of kids who don't have, not only things, but families to go home to," Kim Clarkson said.
When given the choice between a small party for her seventh birthday and keeping the gifts, or a big party and giving them away, Kelsey answered without hesitation.
"I had lots of toys, so I might as well give them away," Kelsey said.
All toys will be distributed to the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services for foster children. Any extra toys will be distributed to needy children.
You can help
To buy game tickets or make toy donations, call 396-7841. Arrangements will be made for pickup or delivery. Financial donations will be taken at any Fifth Third Bank location through "Kelsey's Foster Fund."
Recommended: Wooden puzzles, dolls, arts and craft kits, balls, books, cars, trucks, board games, stuffed animals, stickers, lamps, radios, gloves, gift certificates.
Not recommended: Violence-oriented and battery-operated toys.
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