Kokomo girl, 9, spends her holidays raising money for woman who lost home in tornado

KOKOMO, Ind. - It’s that time of year when we all try to be a little more giving -- whether it’s helping a neighbor or giving to the less fortunate. But when a child steps up to help those who need it most, it really grabs our attention.

Nine-year-old Kyndal Mellady has a reason -- actually, hundreds of them -- to feel good about herself on this Christmas day.

That’s because she made it a Christmas one Kokomo woman will never forget.

“I saw that her house was all knocked down,” Kyndal said. “And I thought I should help her.”

While most third-graders were likely busy putting together their Christmas wish lists, this Russiaville girl was turning out bracelets for a cause.

One day after school, she told her mother she wanted to help someone hit by last month’s tornado that tore through town.

"It's not uncommon that she would think of people and feel bad for them,” Kyndal’s mother, Maria Toney, said. “But to come up with the idea -- that was shocking. That was a pretty good feeling."

So at a buck apiece, and with some donations, she raised more than $600 -- all for a woman she’d never met until Sunday.

With her mother behind the camera, Kyndal stood next to tornado victim Phyllis Rawlins, who showed her where her house once stood. It was one she shared with her husband until he died 16 months ago.

Rawlins lost her home on that November day tornadoes made their way across Indiana, and everything in it. But thanks to Kyndal, she has even more hope her life will return to normal, sooner rather than later.

"And to know that she wanted to do that for someone else that she had never met -- didn't know anything about -- really touched my heart," Rawlins said.

When Kyndal returns to school after the holidays and students share stories about what they got for Christmas, Kyndal will likely be most excited to share what she gave someone.

“It makes me feel like I’m helping someone design their house again,” Kyndal said.

Rawlins told Kyndal she’s going to use some of the money for a plaque with Kyndal’s name to remind her of the Christmas she’ll never forget.

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