When 3-year-old Taylnn Kendall heard that the less fortunate have little means to celebrate the holidays, she decided there must be something she could do to help.
Taylnn, the daughter of Jamestown resident Tabitha Raynor, spent Wednesday afternoon on an adventure that would ultimately reward staff and volunteers at local charity organizations with homemade baked goods.
To the volunteers and staff, Taylnn and Raynor brought a variety of homemade holiday baked goods. Along with each batch of goodies came a card, which had Taylnn's handprint within. Also within the card were photos of Taylnn with Santa and others.
From left are Mike Reale, Taylnn Kendall and Tabitha Raynor, who are shown presenting holiday treats to Brian Mlacker, St. Susan Center volunteer of the year.
P-J photos by Dusten Rader
According to Raynor, it all started when Taylnn had her picture taken with Santa Claus at the Chautauqua Mall.
"Taylnn said that Santa likes people to be happy on Christmas," Raynor said. "So, while making peanut butter cookies she said, 'Mommy, I want to help make people happy for Christmas too - Santa would love that.'"
They were joined on their adventure by driver Mike Reale, who first took them to St. Susan Center. While there, they met Brian Mlacker, St. Susan Center volunteer of the year, whom they presented with the holiday treats.
"For three years old, look at the love she has in her heart for others," Mlacker said.
After finishing up at St. Susan Center, the group headed to the Salvation Army, to which they brought twice the amount of treats. Half of the donation was intended for volunteers and staff of the Salvation Army, but the other half was meant for workers of The Agnes Home, which is a domestic violence shelter.
"The Salvation Army helped me regain the skills I needed to give Taylnn a wonderful life," Raynor said. "Without them it would not be the same - they've changed our lives. So, we figured why not give back to those who have helped us the most."
While delivering holiday treats to the volunteers and staff at Salvation Army, Taylnn and Raynor got a preview of the organization's gift-giving program, which Taylnn called Santa's workshop.
The final location of their trip was the YWCA of Jamestown, where Taylnn and Raynor met with Nanci Okerlund, director of transitional housing.
"My daughter and I stayed at the YWCA transitional housing for about a year and a half," Raynor said. "Without that program alone, my daughter and I would not have a stable place to live."
"It's wonderful - I love these two," Okerlund added. "They came into my life on Dec. 1 of 2011, and they are just an amazing pair. I've been privileged to walk with her through a lot of her journey - I'm very proud of them both. I'm grateful, and thrilled that they decided to make this donation. They are a very giving pair, so it doesn't surprise me one bit."
Those who would like to meet, or offer support to Taylnn and Raynor, the pair will be at the Falconer Tops on Tuesday from noon-1 p.m. to ring the bell for Salvation Army.