'A little girl with a big heart': 7-year-old buys presents for n - KOTA Territory News

'A little girl with a big heart': 7-year-old buys presents for needy family


She's a little girl with a big heart, bringing even bigger joy to a Rapid City family who needed it.

Her name is Kennedy. She's just 7 years old.
She had a mission Saturday.
"I had a couple ideas" before going to the store, Kennedy said.

Like countless people across the country, she spent Saturday morning Christmas shopping. Unlike most of them, she had never met the people she was shopping for.

It all started two months ago with a tragedy.
"We lost my brother-in-law, who was more like a son to me," said Mariah McLellan, Kennedy's mom.
Arleigh McLellan was just 18 years old when he died in a car crash in October near Dupree.

Kerry McLellan's and Mariah's oldest daughter, Kennedy, wanted to help somehow.
"The guidance counselor suggested maybe she do something in memory of her uncle," Mariah said.
That was a suggestion the second-grader took to a whole new level.
"Any parent's dream is to have a little girl do something like this that could touch other people's lives," Kerry said.
Through Church Response, Kennedy's parents helped her find a family in need.

Then she started raising money and didn't stop.
She raised "about $945 total," said Mariah.
She was even getting more donations while she was trying to spend the money. Two women approached her in Kohl's and gave her an extra hundred dollars.

She bought clothes, toys and gift cards for five kids living with their grandparents in a small apartment.

The grand total for the shopping trip was close to a thousand dollars.

Two hours after leaving the store, the presents were wrapped and they were headed to their new home.
"My heart was pounding when we were walking down the hall" toward the apartment, said Mariah.
"I was nervous," added Kennedy. "I didn't know what they looked like or anything."

"It was great watching them open the gifts," Kerry said, "and everyone shed a tear."

Today we are very blessed," Edgar Bear Runner, the grandfather of the five kids, said. "I never expected nothing like this to happen. ... She's a little girl with a big heart."

"I know Arleigh is smiling big from up in heaven," the 18-year-old's mother, Terri McLellan, said.

And even though the kids opened most of their presents early Saturday afternoon, Kennedy bought enough so they'd each have something to open on Christmas, too.

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