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home : news : news Sunday, October 22, 2017

7/6/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Young philanthropist. Eleven-year-old Hannah Payne of DeWitt displays some of the books she has collected to donate to children in Moore, Okla. For her birthday this year, Payne chose to forgo getting gifts and give books to youngsters who lost nearly everything they owned in the tornado that ravaged the town in May. Last year at her 10th birthday party, Payne asked guests to bring canned goods for the Referral Center. She says a lot of her friends are supportive of her efforts to help those in need instead of asking for material things for herself. Photo by Kate Howes
Local 11-year-old gets into the habit of giving

By Kate Howes
Staff writer

It's supposed to be her special day, but this year Hannah Payne's birthday wish was to do something to help others and hopefully make their lives a little brighter.

Before her party, which was held Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Park in DeWitt, Payne asked her guests not to bring her presents; but rather, new books for school-age children.

While it may not be a typical request from an 11-year-old girl - many of whom may be thrilled by the thought of getting clothes, shoes and other more fun, age-appropriate items - Payne already had in mind who the recipients of the gifts will be and knows how much they probably will appreciate them.

Families in Moore, Okla., lost so much in May when a monstrous cyclone plowed through the city, destroying nearly everything in its wake including two elementary schools.

After the seeing the horrifying and heart-wrenching scenes of the post-tornado town all over the news, Payne knew she wanted to do something for those who survived yet had lost everything.

In particular, she wanted to help children just like her.

"She just figures she has enough stuff already," says Payne's mom, Lisa Anderson, of DeWitt. "She said, 'I could do more for someone else,' and decided she wanted to do something for the people in Oklahoma."

Ultimately, Payne chose to collect books for the youth in the community who not only had lost their schools and school libraries, but also everything they owned -including books they enjoyed reading in their spare time or just before bed.

Anderson says Payne wanted to get the collection process underway as soon as possible and notified all 125 of her fellow fifth-grade classmates about her plans.

Even before the party, she received some Amazon gift cards that Payne will use to order books online.

"She told me, 'Mom, I want this to be huge,'" Anderson relates. "I told her to invite as many people as she could, cast a wide net and see who comes."

Although not as many of her friends were able to attend her party due to schedule conflicts, Payne did get some wonderful, brand-new books that would appeal to a wide age range of children.

She also intends to continue collecting as many books as possible over the next few weeks.

This is not the first birthday Payne has decided it truly is better to give than to receive.

Last year, she had her party guests bring canned goods that later were donated to the DeWitt Referral Center.

Anderson says her daughter's altruism always has come naturally - something that makes her very proud to be her mom.

"She's always just been very generous and kind-hearted," Anderson shares. "She's also very sensitive to others and seems very attuned to what others are going through. She wants to make a difference."

In many ways, Payne is just like any other 11-year-old girl - she loves spending time with her friends, gymnastics, playing outside and spending time with her brother, Isaac, and her dog, Souri.

Yet, she also is very mindful of the world around her and wants to do her part in making it better.

"It made me feel sad when I heard about the tornadoes in Oklahoma," Payne relates. "But when I know I can do something to help and donate stuff the people need, it makes me feel better. I just want to help as many people as I can."

Although Anderson says she's not exactly sure where to send the books to ensure they'll get to the appropriate people, they intend to write to Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin to find out.

In the meantime, Payne still is collecting books. Anyone interested in donating may bring books for children to The Observer office, located at 512 Seventh St. in DeWitt.

Anderson credits family friends Kate Judge of DeWitt and Trista Beise of Grand Mound and Central Intermediate fifth-grade teacher Angie Hofer for helping fulfill her daughter's mission.

"It's so easy in this day and age to be wrapped up in ourselves," Anderson relates. "I'm proud of my daughter for being so generous . . . as a parent, that's what you strive for."

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