The Edmond Sun

Local News

May 12, 2012

5-year-old raises herbs 'for her heart'

Kindergartner tackles autism one project at a time

EDMOND — Allie Anhalt is not just any 5-year-old, she is a remarkable child with a gentle nature, a huge heart, a philanthropic spirit and a knack for selling.

“Allie Anhalt is an amazing little girl,” said Liz Maren, her kindergarten teacher at Clegern Elementary.

“Allie could be a modern day Shirley Temple. She looks and sounds like her, but she has an amazing vocabulary and kind heart.”

Her mother, Erin Anhalt said Allie is very hospitable and her best character trait is she always wants people to feel welcome.

 Allie has been a member of The Jack Pack’s Autism Piece Walk team for the past four years. The team represents 6-year-old Jackson Donley who has autism, and Jackson is Allie’s friend.

Two years ago she decided she would raise money to help the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma so Jackson could in turn learn to talk.

“My friend Jackson is autistic and he can’t talk,” Allie said, “although he can say ‘hi’. I like to play with him. He is so nice.”

She met Jackson through her mother’s friend, Angela Donley. Donley is Jackson’s mom and chairperson for Piece Walk held each year to raise money for Autism Oklahoma.

“She is an amazing little girl,” Donley said. “Jackson really likes her. She is nice and kind and doesn’t let his quirks bother her. To be so young, she gets it. She understands that he is different and she accepts him and the other children with autism the way they are.”

Donley said Allie’s main goal was to teach Jackson to say “Hi” and now he can.

While her parents were planning a garage sale, Allie came up with the idea to have a lemonade stand to help raise money for Jackson.

“It was amazing,” said her mom, Erin. “Allie comes up with all the ideas on her own. She decides what she wants to sell, makes it, and tells the people about autism and why she is raising the money. She came up with the idea for a lemonade stand and would walk up to the shoppers and tell them about her friend Jackson and about autism.”

Erin said one of the shoppers gave Allie $50 for a glass of lemonade.

With a little help from her mom, Allie made cupcakes, 10 dozen in fact, and sold them to her mom’s friends to raise money.

“Allie did everything except turning on the oven and putting in and taking the cupcakes out,” Erin said.

“I have some incredible friends. I went out on Facebook and told them what Allie was doing, and they stopped by the house and bought cupcakes.”

Although lemonade sales have been her most profitable selling venture, Allie has also sold cookies, and her latest fundraiser is raising herbs to sell at the Edmond Junior Farmers Market on Wednesdays this summer.

Erin said Allie does about 85 percent or more of the work from the inception of the idea to the finished product for each project.

“Recently when I was at the store, I picked up a bunch of basil and I said, ‘I can’t believe this costs $4,’” Erin said. “Allie quickly responded with, ‘We could grow our own and sell it at the Farmers Market for Jackson.’”

Each project Allie comes up with has a learning curve, her mother said.

With raising herbs first Allie had to learn how to plant and care for them, and now she is now learning how to harvest her first crop of basil and dill.

Thursday her mother was teaching Allie how to pick the tender basil properly as her 3-year-old brothers Henry and Grady looked on.

With the energy only a 5-year-old can tap into, Allie jumped from plant to plant naming off the different herbs in her garden and in the pots sitting around the patio.

“I have mint, apple mint, spearmint and strawberry mint and two kinds of basil and parsley, thyme, marjoram, oregano and chives,” Allie said, “and I also have lavender, of course, you can’t eat that, but it smells real good.”

When asked why she raises money, Allie responded, “For my heart.

“Because my friend Jackson can’t talk and I want him to be able to. Then I will know what he wants and if he wants me to play with him.”

While raising $688.13 in the past two years for autism research, Allie added, “I do it because it helps people and makes me feel good, and I feel really proud.”

Allie lives in Edmond with her mom and dad, Erin and John, and her brothers, Henry and Grady.

April was Autism Awareness month and 2,289 people participated during the 2012 5th Annual Piece Walk May 5. Autism Oklahoma raised $124,993, all of which will stay in Oklahoma. For more information about the Piece Walk, go to www.piecewalk.org and for information about Autism Oklahoma, go to www.autismoklahoma.org.

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