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Over Coffee

6-Year-Old Plans Own Fundraiser
Oct 23, 2008 - 10:04:02 AM

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Committees spend countless hours in meetings deciding how to raise funds for particular projects. Not Madison Ford. She heard about something that needed to be done, and went right out and did it.

Two family members helped her a little, but the fundraising idea was all hers, said 6-year-old Madison’s grandmother, Georgana Collins, as we sat in Apollo Beach sipping coffee while Madison downed a cold drink. 
Madison Ford, 6, assisted by “Grammy” Georgana Collins, sold Kool-Aid to raise money for 7th and 8th graders at Ruskin Christian School to go on a class trip. Although grandparents helped, the idea for the fundraiser and most of the effort came directly from Madison. Penny Fletcher Photo

“Madison loves her school. Her teacher told the class that the 7th and 8th grades were trying to raise money for a trip to Washington D.C. and she wanted to help. She went to her “Pappy,” Jack, and he made a sign and I made some Kool Aid and we called the Winn Dixie (in Apollo Beach) and asked if we could set up a Kool Aid stand in front of their store. The manager said we could do it for one hour if we could get there in less than half and hour. I never expected it to be so fast but we made it,” Georgana said. “We met all kinds of nice people. I remember one man saying ‘It’s been so long since I drank Kool Aid I forgot how good it is,’ and things like that that made Madison smile. Anyway, Madison raised $37 all on her own in just that one hour.”

According to Georgana, Madison has always been a caring child. She loves to help her parents, grandparents, teachers and friends, and takes good care of her Doberman and miniature dachshund. “She’s always loved to do things for other people – like if you have a headache or something, she’ll offer to bring you water and aspirin.”

The school’s trip sponsor, math teacher Kim Keating, was amazed at the resourcefulness shown by such a young student.

“It is really quite amazing,” she said.

Madison is the youngest of four generations living in South County, her grandmother said. Great-grandmother Millie Stahl, at 77, still works at SunTrust Bank. Then there are Georgana and Jack, and Madison’s parents, Lori and Kevin- and of course, Madison.

“Maybe that has helped her to be loving and caring but I credit a lot of it to her school,” “Grammy” Georgana said.

Madison attends the Ruskin Christian School, a Baptist-church affiliated highly-accredited educational facility that teaches biblical principles and New Testament living along with its regular studies.

This year RCS is having a silent auction Nov. 15 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the school, located at 820 College Ave., W. in Ruskin, with between 300 and 400 donated items to be auctioned off.

The silent auction will be open to the public and anyone who wants to may donate items  or come out and bid – both of which will help the 45 people (which includes 13 chaperones) who will be heading to D.C. between April 29 and May 3.

Besides prizes like Disney and Busch Gardens passes and a father/son all-expenses-paid hunting trip to Georgia, there will be theme baskets made by the classes like “things and gift certificates for gardening” or “for holidays” or “spa baskets.”

The school is trying to raise $15,000 to lower the costs being paid by parents of the 7th and 8th grade students.

Some of the activities scheduled during the trip are seeing the major monuments in the daytime and on a night tour; making an amphibious ride down the Potomac River; and visiting the White House, FBI Building, Holocaust Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. 

Students and chaperones will take an Amtrak train north and then fly back, Kim said.

Madison wanted to make sure her friend (and sometimes babysitter) Valerie, who is in the 7th grade, and her classmates got to go on the trip, Georgana said.
“I think that’s what (knowing Valerie) gave it such importance to her,” she aadded.  “Their mothers are friends so Valerie treats Madison like a little sister.”

Meanwhile, Georgana says she is thankful for many things, but her granddaughter’s thoughtfulness, the school’s ability to teach Bible verses along with public school subjects, and the sweetness and generosity of the people who bought Kool Aid from Madison are near the top of her list.

*Perhaps you have something you’d like to share. Or maybe you’d rather tell the community about your favorite charity or cause: or sound off about something you think needs change. That’s what “Over Coffee” is about. It really doesn’t matter whether we actually drink any coffee or not (although I probably will). It’s what you have to say that’s important. E-mail me at, any time and suggest a meeting place. No matter what’s going on, I’m usually available to share just one more cup.

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