By DAWNE LEIKER
It took three large totes to carry the supplies donated to a local domestic violence shelter by a 9-year-old Russell boy. But the gifts carried with them the significance of a youngster reaching out to people he might never meet.
Brayden Ford, a third-grader at Bickerdyke Elementary, turned 9 years old Feb. 12 and made a decision several weeks before his birthday to request donations from his party guests for Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Shelter in lieu of presents.
Tucked in each invitation sent to 20 boys and girls was a wish list of items needed by the shelter. The guests responded, bringing the requested supplies including toothpaste, toothbrushes, canned food, boxed food, diapers, wipes, baby food and formula.
The decision to make the donation to the shelter was nearly a year in the making, said Brayden's mother, Melanee Ford. Last year, after she and Brayden discussed the idea, he wasn't quite ready to jump on board.
"I explained to him what a shelter was and what happens to the families," she said. "We talked about it again this year, and he thought it was probably a good idea."
Giving the donations to the shelter made Brayden "feel good," he said.
"It made me proud because I did that."
Those who benefited from the donations also were proud of Brayden's gesture.
"We didn't know it was happening," said Charlotte Linsner, executive director of Options. "It was a really nice surprise."
As an agency that depends on donations to provide services, Linsner said, Options staff members appreciate every donation received.
"By no means was (Brayden's donation) more important than another one, other than the fact that here is a kid who said, 'I'm going to do for somebody else.'
"We were very, very proud that they chose us."