Butler County girl uses cookie sales, donations to sweeten Christmas for needy kids

Ross Township 12-year-old Taya Estes, center front row in Grinch costume, didn't let the coronavirus stop her family tradition of giving Christmas gifts to area pre-school students. Taya spent past years baking and selling cookies to buy gifts - she is seen here in 2019 after giving bike helmets - but this year had to change due to coronavirus. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
Ross Township 12-year-old Taya Estes, center front row in Grinch costume, didn't let the coronavirus stop her family tradition of giving Christmas gifts to area pre-school students. Taya spent past years baking and selling cookies to buy gifts - she is seen here in 2019 after giving bike helmets - but this year had to change due to coronavirus. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

During Christmas season some years ago, Taya Estes of Ross Twp. stumbled upon some lost change.

Most 7-year-olds might have thought about using the coins to buy something for themselves. But Taya was different.

Instead, she wanted to use the money to bake cookies, she told her parents, and then sell them to raise money for Christmas gifts for needy children.

To her family’s amazement, the cookie baking and sales went on and on until enough donations – helped by the Estes’ own generous giving – raised $1,000, and she donated the money to Toys For Tots.

In later years her holiday cookie sales and family donations transformed into direct gift-giving to local preschool classes. Free scooters, for example, went to an area class in 2018. Bikes and safety helmets went to another pre-school class last year, when Taya dressed up in a green Grinch costume with a big Christmas spirit, enlarged heart patch sewn on to her chest mimicking the Grinch’s magical, heartfelt transformation.

But this year, coronavirus concerns stopped the Estes’ family tradition of fund-raising cookie sales.

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Undeterred, the now-seventh-grader at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Fairfield and her family decided to spend $600 of the money they usually spent for baking hundreds of cookies to directly buy gifts. They purchased 19 mini-trampolines for preschoolers at Butler County Education Services Center’s Grant Early Learning Center.

“She just has a huge heart,” said Danielle Estes of her daughter. “And she’s a really creative little girl who adores little kids.”

Angela Pingleton, Taya’s aunt, is a preschool teacher at Grant Early Learning Center, said her niece delivers a lot more than just gifts to students.

“It is so important for these kiddos to see someone older, but close to their age, working so hard and selflessly to give to others,” said Pingleton.

“Christmas is a time of giving and we need to teach our little ones to show kindness whenever we can. Even at such a young age, they (older children) can still make a huge impact on others.”

Schools have not been allowing classroom visitors due to coronavirus precautions, so this Christmas season Taya and her family instead recently delivered the mini-trampolines directly to the kids.

“I didn’t get to go to their school this year so instead we went to their homes and delivered the gifts to their front porches,” said Taya.

Giving and “seeing the smiles on their faces,” makes her happy, said Taya, whose family has a Facebook page – Taya’s Tasties - devoted to her efforts.

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