TURNER, Maine — When you ask area business workers about seventh-grader Molly McCormick, the women practically swoon.
At age 12, McCormick has developed a local reputation for fundraising to help others.
“She is truly an inspiration,” Linda Ranhoff, of K & K Excavation, said. “She immediately presents herself as special. Her whole life is spent helping others.”
Roberta Shackford of Acadia Contractors said she knows Molly. “Her work is amazing, for such a young girl to be so involved in fundraising. She’s been in on a couple of occasions. She’s a sweetheart.”
When Molly’s not playing basketball, serving on the Tripp Middle School council or in dance lessons, she has raised $8,500 for charity in the last two years, she and her parents, Wanda and Dan McCormick, said.
From her living room, Molly showed off a thick notebook, her fundraising portfolio. It’s full of charts and graphs and thank you certificates she hands out to businesses. “If you go around the community, people have them framed and on their wall,” her mother said.
Also in her portfolio are business cards and posters and fliers about the charities she’s adopted.
Some of her causes include the chocolate Easter bunnies she sold last spring to raise money for Tripp Middle School in Turner and the Good Shepherd Food-Bank in Auburn. She raised $1,600 selling cases of chocolate bunnies.
This past fall, she raised $3,600 in five days for her school to buy magazines for sick children at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at the Maine Medical Center.
She took on the magazine drive, Molly said, when she found out that the magazines at the hospital were old and there were no magazines for children. That effort went better than expected, she said, when businesses she contacted responded by challenging each other.
One business owner said, “’Hey, go over and see so-and-so,'” Wanda said. “Tell them I did $150, and tell them to meet me or beat me.” Molly ended up providing money for her school and 130 magazine subscriptions, including “Lady Bug” and “Your Big Back Yard,” that will go to the children’s hospital in the next year or two.
Another cause she has adopted is Operation Smile, which provides surgeries for children with facial deformities such as cleft lips and palates. Many of those children are in China. Because medical providers donate their service, a surgery for one child costs $240. Molly has raised enough to pay for eight surgeries.
She donates her money from doing chores, baby-sitting and birthdays to the program.
“Her grandmother wouldn’t give her any money for Christmas” because she knew the money would go to one of her causes, her mother said.
For three years she also raised money at her parents’ lawn sales, displaying her Operation Smile jar and posters at her own table. People drive now looking for Molly, her father said. “People will say to us, ‘How much does she need to finish her next surgery?’”
Molly has also worked for other causes, making blankets for Project Linus for children who have suffered trauma, and helping the Pink Feather Foundation in Mechanic Falls, which helps area residents falling on hard times.
What’s made Molly so aware of the needs of others are her family’s experiences, including her own close encounter with death.
In 2005 and 2007 her family adopted two special needs children from China. Her sister, Mia, came when she was 1 year old in 2005. Two years later came Kai. He was born with cleft lips and palates.
In the Chinese orphanage Kai was told that “nobody wanted him because he had an ugly face,” Wanda said. Kai has since had some corrective surgeries. He faces more surgeries, but today he looks like a typical, adorable little boy.
“She’s had a chance through her brother’s surgeries at Shriners to see children badly hurt,” her mother said. That’s in part what prompted her to want to help Operation Smile and the children’s hospital.
When Molly was an infant, she was a patient at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.
After she was born her mother took her to the doctor’s for a routine 10-day checkup. “I took the blanket off her and said, ‘Why are her legs blue?’” Wanda recalled.
Molly had stopped breathing, her mother said. If she hadn’t been at the doctor’s office when the attack happened Molly would have died, she said.
She spent three days at the Barbara Bush hospital, and 12 scary months hooked to wires, monitors and oxygen.
Molly said her work is to pay back the good fortune she has enjoyed. She knows she’s lucky to be alive.
“I realize some people aren’t as fortunate. I like making a difference in people’s lives,” she said.
Her parents are proud of how she helps others. “She’s here for a reason,” Wanda said.
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