GLADSTONE - Forget about checking out the fashion dolls and accessories. Don't bother with those cute hair accessories so loved by little girls. That adorable "Hello Kitty" shirt might be a thought, but never mind purchasing it.
Any of those items might have been a great idea to buy and gift-wrap for a little girl celebrating her sixth birthday. However, MacKenzie Brazeau had something else in mind when she invited the youngsters in her kindergarten class at the Webster School to her birthday party. MacKenzie turned 6 on Jan. 21.
After hearing from her grandmother about the tragic death of 8-year-old Nelson Williams, who died in a house fire in the Bark River area in December, MacKenzie decided to forget about receiving gifts for herself. Instead, she sent out birthday party invitations requesting that each party goer bring a cash donation that would be donated to Nelson's family.
Dorothy McKnight | Daily Press
Six-year-old MacKenzie Brazeau holds a huge cardboard pinwheel sucker, symbolic of just one of the scores of sweet treats that were available to the guests at her recent birthday party. In lieu of gifts for herself, MacKenzie asked her guests to bring a donation for the family of Duaine and Dawn (Hemminger) Williams who lost their son, Nelson, in a house fire in late December. She is pictured with her parents, Jenny and Josh Brazeau.
Helping MacKenzie Brazeau celebrate her sixth birthday are: from left front, Chloe Anderson, Skylar Bittner, Bella Lindstrom, and Emma Zimmer; back row, Isaiah Moran, Blake Branstrom, Charlie Walker, and birthday-girl MacKenzie.
MacKenzie reads one of the birthday cards she received from her classmates at her recent birthday party.
With a Candyland theme at MacKenzie’s birthday party and a pool table laden with sweet treats, it might have looked like a scene from “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
"My gramma told me about the fire and that a boy died and I felt really sad about it," said MacKenzie. "I wanted to donate something to the family so they could feel better."
When MacKenzie told her mom, Jenny Brazeau, about her wishes, the pair came up with the idea to use her upcoming birthday party to raise some money for the Williams family.
"I thought it was a wonderful idea," said Jenny. "MacKenzie has so many toys and I thought what could anyone possibly give her that would be as meaningful. Christmas was just here and she got so much stuff. We thought, why not do something really special?"
Jenny and her husband, Josh Brazeau, hosted their daughter's birthday at the Elks Lodge in Escanaba where the youngsters enjoyed bowling on the lodge's lanes. A "Candyland" theme offered a huge assortment of sweet treats for the party guests, including Gummies, bubble gum, gingerbread men and huge pinwheel suckers.
"We had the entire pool table covered with candy," said Jenny with a smile.
A total of $90 was raised by the 10 party guests and an additional $10 was donated from Peggy O'Connell Schumann, president of Positively The Center For Success, who saw the party posted on Facebook.
"That brought the donation up to an even $100," said Jenny. The family then brought the donation to a local credit union where an account has been set up in the Williams family's name.