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Young philanthropist: Get treats for a good cause
Bailey Flinchbaugh isn't spending her summer quite like other kids her age. Instead of attending summer camp, playing "Pokemon Go" or just lounging around the house, she's hosting a bake sale to raise money for charity.
Twelve-year-old Bailey has raised more than $5,000 in four years for the Four Diamonds Fund, which assists pediatric cancer patients at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
Five years ago, she asked her parents, Brady and Joy Flinchbaugh, if she could hold a bake sale, much like the lemonade stands young kids operate. Her parents agreed, but only if she donated all of the money to a good cause.
They decided to raise money for Four Diamonds because the nonprofit helped the son of one of Brady Flinchbaugh's friends. Bailey raised $300 with just a small stand.
She has continued the annual fundraiser every year since, and her mission has grown. Bailey now borrows a trailer equipped with a refrigerator from a family friend, Larry Yeakel, owner of Jean's Funnel Cakes.
"There are so many kids out there that they're lucky to be healthy, but then there's some that aren't as lucky as the kids that are, and I wanted to help them," Bailey said. "I wanted to help them because they're not as lucky as me. I'm lucky to be healthy, and I felt really bad for them to be stuck in the hospitals with nothing to do."
In years past, she set up at friends' yard sales, but now she has her own spot outside a different family friend's house, close to home so she and her helpers can get extra supplies if they're needed. The new location, at 255 Main St. in Felton, has more parking spots for the numerous customers who stop by throughout the day.
Her operations have become so popular that people in the area pre-order their baked goods to ensure she doesn't run out before they have a chance to buy, Brady Flinchbaugh said. The whole family helps out with the sales. Bailey's grandmother, Judy Flinchbaugh, bakes her "famous" peanut butter fudge and cakes, and her aunt, Marsha Flinchbaugh, donates sugar cookies. Other family members act as runners, delivering more baked goods and other supplies when needed.
Members of the community also donate baked goods or funds to Bailey's stand, including a family friend, Windy Lewis, who donates mini cheesecakes that are almost as popular as Grandma's homemade fudge. Overall, the Red Lion Area Middle School student has goodies including cakes, cookies, Rice Krispies treats, piña colada cupcakes and finger Jell-O, thanks to six or seven volunteers.
The front of the trailer she uses is lined with thank-you cards from Four Diamonds, as well as one from Kai, who is her former swim coach's grandson. Kai is one of many children who benefit from the services provided by the Four Diamonds Fund.
"It makes me feel good to see I'm helping someone," Bailey said.
Over the years, Bailey's charity work has grown beyond a yearly bake sale as she's increased her fundraising goal from her original $300 to $2,000. This year, she and her parents rented a local fire hall and held a community dance to raise funds. The dance featured a DJ, and prizes were donated for 50/50 and raffles.
In addition, Bailey's former elementary school, North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary in Red Lion, hosted a beach day and gave all of the funds to Bailey toward her goal this year. More than $300 was raised at the event, she said.
In total, this year Bailey raised approximately $2,360 through the school beach day, the community dance and her bake sale. Her mother said the number might increase as a few more people pay for their goods, but it won't increase too much.
Once Bailey's done with the bake sale, she and her parents are sure to go to Penn State Hershey Medical Center to present the check. Brady Flinchbaugh said they made sure to do it the first year to show their daughter where the money was actually going, and they've tried to do it every year since.
Bailey Flinchbaugh's bake sale raises money for Four Diamonds for the fifth year in a row.
"It's humbling to walk around and see the parents," Brady Flinchbaugh said. "Even if you think you're having a bad day, you're not."
He said each year the hospital staff makes a huge deal of the work the young girl has done by bringing out the big cardboard check, having her sign her name and cheering for her.
"In the grand scheme of things it's not a lot, but they treat it like it's a lot," Brady Flinchbaugh said.
"There, every penny counts," Bailey said.