Grade 8 student Haley McKinlay alongside grandparents Liz Haley and Bob Haley at the Operation Christmas Tree kickoff. November 15, 2018. (Photo by Colin Gowdy, BlackburnNews)

Operation Christmas Tree applauds eighth grader for tireless support

A local eighth grader is spreading holiday cheer by giving back to those in need.

Haley McKinlay, a student at Colonel Cameron in Corunna, has been involved with Operation Christmas Tree for nearly a decade.

The Moore Optimist Club’s 37th annual Christmas Hamper campaign, which provides food and toy hampers for around 125 area-families, kicked off Thursday at the Royal Canadian Legion in Corunna.

Haley said she got involved to give back to the community that gave so much to her.

“So my family used [Operation Christmas Tree] when I was in kindergarten, so we wanted to give back once we got back on track and we’ve been doing it ever since,” said Haley. “I don’t do it for the feeling, I do it because I know how it makes others feel. If you feel like doing it, you need to do it. You may think it’s a small thing, but for other families, it could be huge.”

During last year’s campaign, Haley helped donate upwards of $1,200 to families in need.

Spokesman Lorne Powell said the young philanthropist has inspired many others to get involved over the years.

“She’s supported Operation Christmas Tree since she was 4-years-old, and little by little, it’s grown. Originally she did it on her own, but then her teachers found out what she was doing, got on-board and helped support her,” said Powell. “So she’s done very, very well. She’s an amazing young gal with a big heart.”

Powell said this year, Haley is trying to collect as many toys as possible to donate.

Powell said the reason he’s been involved with the campaign over the years is for the children.

“That toy hamper to me is bigger than the food hamper. I can’t imagine a kid not having a toy on Christmas morning.”

Donations for Operation Christmas Tree can be dropped off at the OPP Emergency Services building in Corunna.

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