A Gift for Manna House

Sometimes good things come in
small packages with rosy cheeks, grand
ideas and big hearts. Katherine Neal,
age 11, looked at the world and decided
not to sit on the sideline, as others
struggled with the necessities of life,
but to do something about it.
Rummaging through her Grandma Lo
Lo’s (Lois’) garage one day, she came
across a huge roll of tickets and asked
to have them. Permission granted she
announced to her mother Rosemarie
that she wanted to have a raffle for the
people at Manna House. Katherine
explained, “I thought Manna House
would need help because of all the people
that need food, shelter and medicine.”
Manna House is a local charity that
seeks to meet the needs of struggling
families offering food, clothing and,
sometimes, financial help. After
Katherine got permission from her
mom to proceed with the raffle, she
went “shopping” in Grandma Lo Lo’s
garage and found bags of jewelry and
other items. “I called it garage shopping
because I gave her things to go in there,”
Katherine said, explaining she replaced
what she took from her
grandmother with ceramic objects she
painted or coins she had collected.
Katherine also wanted to have an
auction for Manna House, so it was back
to grandma’s for more free shopping.
This time she came up with a big-ticket
item — a television. Rosemarie stated,
“They had a silent auction at her school
and she got this concept of Why can’t I
do that? Katherine has an attitude of I
can do that; then she will actually do it.
She is very detail-oriented and always
thinking of the next project. She barely
finishes one project and she’s ready for
the next one.”
Katherine meticulously planned the
auction and raffle herself. She explained,
“For the silent auction, I took pictures
of the items up for auction and put
them on pieces of paper to show people.”
She sold the tickets for $1 per ticket or
five tickets for $3. “I sold them at church,
school and people in the neighborhood
— only to people I know — because
you’re not supposed to talk to strangers.”
Rosemarie said, “Her karate teacher
donated a month’s worth of classes
that included the uniform. That is a
value worth $125.” Katherine added,
“I advertised the auction with signs,
mostly at church. I made a big sign
that said Silent Auction and Raffle All
Funds and Donations go to Manna
House.” Katherine had a table at church
with the sign behind her. She waited
until some interested person would
come by the table and then explained
to them what she was doing and why.
The items on her table were designated
either for auction or for raffle. Katherine
made $350 from the auction and $250
from the raffle.
When Katherine donated money
for the first time, she discovered how
important her efforts were for Manna
House. She said, “This family couldn’t
get the money to buy medicine and
the money people give can help with
prescriptions. That’s why I didn’t want
to donate things, but to give them cash.”
Katherine’s next moneymaking
project for Manna House was to have a
carnival in her backyard, with her friend
Hannah Pavach helping. In planning
the carnival, the Neal’s backyard
became a hive of activity. Katherine
recalled the activities scheduled for the
carnival. “Pastor Tom [Tom Curran
from Midlothian Bible Church] helped
us with the toys and donated bean bags,
milk bottles and duckies. We had a
tank filled with water and tiny rubber
duckies, with prize numbers on some
of them. People were blindfolded before
they reached in and got a duck. They
could have three ducks for a dollar. We
had [a] hula hoop contest to see how
long you could go. We sold lunch and
dinner. Dad [David] cooked hamburgers
and they [mom and dad] bought drinks
to sell. We also had a bow and arrow
booth. If they hit the bull’s eye, then
they got a grand prize.” Rosemarie had
bags of candy for smaller prizes. Manna
House joined in on the fundraising by
donating a basketful of toiletries for
Katherine to sell at 50 cents a piece.
One of the fun things about creating
their own carnival was taking advantage
of everything in their backyard. “We
have a trampoline in the backyard, and
I didn’t want kids coming into the
backyard for the carnival, jumping on
the trampoline and possibly falling off
and breaking an arm,” Rosemarie said.
“So, we placed it upright against the
tree and tied it so it wouldn’t fall over.
It looked so cool that we used it as a
backdrop for a baseball throw with the
milk bottles. That way, the ball would hit
the trampoline and bounce back in the
yard and not go in the neighbor’s yard.”
The most popular and profitable
moneymaker was, surprise, surprise —
water balloons! Rosemarie remarked,
“Those kids went berserk over the water
balloons. I had to go buy more balloons
and make more water balloons. They
sold for a quarter a piece. The kids
would run home to get more money to
come back for more of them.” Katherine
chimed in with, “Some people paid $10
for a whole bucket full.”
After two days of fun and hard work,
the carnival earned $137. Hannah and
Katherine split the amount, with
Hannah’s money going to an animal
shelter and Katherine’s to Manna
House. Rosemarie exclaimed, “Do you
know how many games the kids had
to play for them to earn $137? That is
a lot of dimes and quarters!” As soon
as the carnival was over, Katherine was
ready for her next project. Her mother
suggested the family take a breath
between projects, but that did not stop
Katherine from mentally planning it.
She draws and paints beautiful paintings
and will put at least one up for her next
silent auction.
Katherine also volunteers at Manna
House. “I organize the clothes, help
with filing and, sometimes, I dust and
clean. I help put the clothes in the back
on hangers.”
Little Katherine’s heart for Manna
House is as much a gift as the money
she brings. When others remark to her
about the wonderful things she is doing
to help others, she simply says in a soft
voice, “Thank you, I’m trying to help
Manna House.”