McCrabb: 8-year-old girl who helps the homeless wise beyond her years

Lilyann Robinson spent $75 she received for her eighth birthday to purchase gloves, hats and scarves for residents of Hope House, a homeless shelter in Middletown. She is a second-grader at Madison Elementary School and the International United Miss Ohio Jr. Preteen. Because of her community service, Lilyann has been recognized as an “Upstander” by the Holocaust and Humanity Center in Cincinnati. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Lilyann Robinson spent $75 she received for her eighth birthday to purchase gloves, hats and scarves for residents of Hope House, a homeless shelter in Middletown. She is a second-grader at Madison Elementary School and the International United Miss Ohio Jr. Preteen. Because of her community service, Lilyann has been recognized as an “Upstander” by the Holocaust and Humanity Center in Cincinnati. SUBMITTED PHOTO

MADISON TWP. — There are times I’d like to invest in people, not products.

I’d withdraw every penny, buy shares of Lilyann Robinson and spend my retirement on a warm beach with a cold beverage in my hand.

Consider that Lilyann, a second-grader at Madison Elementary School, took the $75 she received for her 8th birthday this month and bought presents for a bunch of strangers. Not dolls, jewelry or clothes for herself, but about 200 hats, gloves and scarves for residents of Hope House, a homeless shelter in Middletown.

Because as Lilyann said: “My bedroom already has lots of stuff.”

Then, if that wasn’t mature enough, she added: “It’s important to help others.”

Now, don’t you feel better about the future of our country?

This isn’t the first time Lilyann has performed community service. She has spent weekends picking up trash at Madison Twp. Park and since she noticed an enormous amount of discarded cigarette butts, she’s going to advocate for more trash cans.

When her two older brothers, Landen, a seventh-grader, and Holden, a sixth-grader, as part of the Boy Scouts, placed flags on the graves of veterans for Memorial Day, Lilyann tagged along. It turned into a learning experience for them because they met a woman who was placing flowers on her husband’s grave, said their mother, Brooke Robinson.

“Gave them more meaning,” she said.

Lilyann also has made donations to the Blessing Box, a standalone wooden community food panty that recently opened on Mohawk Avenue in Middletown.

Because of her community service, Lilyann has been recognized as an “Upstander” by the Holocaust and Humanity Center in Cincinnati. She also competes in pageants where community service is one aspect for judges to consider and she recently was named International United Miss Ohio Jr. Preteen.

Remember, she’s five years away from being a teen.

Lilyann has impressed Jeri Lewis, a Hope House board member, Madison Twp. resident and mother of five boys.

“It’s awesome,” Lewis said when asked about Lilyann’s community service. “It warms my heart. Not every day do you see anyone thinking outside the box, especially an 8-year-old. That’s good parenting right there.”

Lewis said the winter items Lilyann donated have been wrapped in zip-lock bags and will be distributed to Hope House residents and those needing them in the community.

She was asked what message Lilyann’s generosity sends to those less fortunate: “Nobody is forgotten and everybody is loved. That’s important, especially at times like these.”

Lilyann plans to help Lewis with her Soup and Sock program in January.

“She’s a good girl,” her mother said.

Robinson, a reading recovery teacher at Crawford Woods Elementary School in Hamilton, tries to lead by example. When she delivered Thanksgiving meals in Hamilton, she took her three children, and when they see a homeless person panhandling, they sometimes go through a fast-food drive-through and buy the person a meal.

“They learn first-hand there are kids not as privileged as they are,” she said. “It’s never too early to show kindness. It only takes one act of kindness to inspire others as well.”

So what message does Lilyann want to send to the homeless, those she may never meet?

“I care about them,” she said simply.

Lilyann is 8.

Going on 28.

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