Most six year olds dream of spending their free summer days splashing around at the water park, running through the woods or playing video games. But St. Louis, Missouri’s Sienna Storey, visiting her aunt Jacqueline Banks-Serra this week, had a different dream for her vacation.
She wanted to hold a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. After weeks of planning, the event was scheduled for this Friday, June 28, at Sweet Elizabeth’s Cakes in Manayunk.
Partnering with a Manayunk business
Storey’s mother, Michelle, inspired Sienna through her own efforts to raise money for the LLS in recent years. Michelle lost her grandmother to leukemia in 2004, two months after being diagnosed with the disease. In recent years, Sienna helped her mother raise funds on several occasions and decided she wanted to hold a fundraiser of her own.
“I’ve been doing all this work because I want the children to get out of the hospital and I want them to feel better,” she said.
Banks-Serra said her niece asked for her help as they planned their summer visit.
“It’s nice seeing a six year old wanting to do something for other people,” she said. “It’s nice seeing my niece want to help other kids.”
Once Sienna decided on LLS as the fundraiser’s recipient, Banks-Serra approached her friend Elizabeth Paradiso – who owns Sweet Elizabeth’s with her husband Owen – for assistance. Paradiso was happy to host the fundraiser to help Banks-Serra, who was the Manayunk store’s first customer.
“I was very excited to be a part of it, to hear a sweet little girl wanted to raise money for such a great cause,” said Paradiso. “It touched my heart so I was happy to help.”
Getting the word out
Storey and Banks-Serra decided to sell chocolate chip cookies for the fundraiser on Friday but started spreading the word this past weekend, during the Manayunk Arts Festival. Sienna spent a couple hours handing out flyers and collecting donations.
“It’s been very hot,” Sienna said of the process. Banks-Serra noted that she was proud to see how motivated her niece was.
“There were tons of people walking in front of the store and Sienna asked me to back up and not help her,” she said. “She wanted to do it by herself.”
They raised $141 during the Arts Festival but hope that will be just the beginning. As Paradiso discussed the plans for Friday, which include Sienna scooping cookie dough onto trays, Storey voiced her own concern about the event.
“What if there is a bunch of people out of the store, on the street and in the other stores?” she asked.
After taking a moment to admire Storey’s optimism, Paradiso responded: “Then we’re going to need you to come back in the afternoon to scoop more cookies.”
The cookies will be sold Friday for 65 cents each (or $6 a dozen) with a special of three cookies and a glass of milk for $3.50. Sweet Elizabeth’s is located at 4409 Main Street and will be open from noon to 8 p.m.For more information about the fundraiser, contact the store at (267) 331-8949 or visit www.sweetelizabethscakes.com.