Little girl with big heart spearheads clothing drive
Helping others is a natural way of thinking for Margo Warnken, a third-grader at Stanwood Elementary School in Hempfield Area School District.
“She has an old soul, is what I like to say,” said Brooke Warnken, her mother, from their rural Hunker home. “One day she may join the Peace Corps.”
When teacher Kristin Pollak assigned a challenge to find a way to help others feel good as part of the national “I Will” campaign, all Margo had to do was find the paper she wrote during the summer while she was recovering from surgery.
“My teacher showed a clip of 9/11 … how important it is to be kind to others and to think of our own way to pay it forward,” said 8-year-old Margo.
“I had my idea already,” she added, noting her project is called “Operation M.A.S.K.” for “Making a Statement of Kindness.”
Margo, 8, had plenty of time to think during her time off school.
She spent the majority of the summer recuperating from surgery to lengthen her Achilles tendons, so she didn't have to walk anymore on her tippy-toes.
This procedure involved an operation at Children's Hospital Surgical Center in Wexford, which called for Z-shaped incisions in both ankles.
She was immobile for a week in casts up to her knees.
Then she couldn't walk for six weeks, said her mom.
Now Margo is waiting for lower-leg braces, made after molds were taken of her feet, which eventually will help form an arch.
“Margo never complained once,” said Brooke Warnken about the procedures and continual twice-weekly physical therapy sessions. “She's done really well.”
Margo would rather talk about Operation M.A.S.K. Margo said she thought about how much she receives on her birthday in December and wants to give to those who have less.
Pollak said the project was approved by Stanwood Principal Raymond Burk last week. It involves collecting new and slightly used clothing, shoes and toys for distribution for families who need assistance.
“And all the third-graders will be making masks — about 100 kids — that will be packaged with the donations to be delivered on Halloween,” Margo said.
So far, the pitch requesting donations has been delivered to local managers of Walmart, Sam's Club and Target, Pollak said.
“This is a good experience for Margo, talking to these really important business people. I have a terrific class — the best ever — and Margo is a remarkable, remarkable girl,” she said.
“We will be collecting in front of the school during the day” from Oct. 21 through Oct. 26, Pollak said.
Parents and other volunteers will be sorting the clothing on Oct. 29.
The Warnken family said they are still working out where the donated clothing and toys will be distributed.
“We're hoping other elementary schools get involved,” Brooke Warnken said. “We're also talking to St. Mark's Lutheran Church.”
Margo is the oldest of three children.
Her sister, Payton, 7, and her brother, Gavin, 6, are helping with the project.
“Initially, Margo was researching third-world countries on the Internet to help on a larger scale,” said her father, Nic Warnken. “We had to talk her into keeping Operation M.A.S.K. local.”
Rose Domenick is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- No. 11 Purdue presents tall order for Pitt
- Mt. Lebanon puts temporary halt on deer kill
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- Steelers receiver Wheaton takes advantage of opportunity in breakout game
- Field conditions could play factor for Clairton in PIAA quarterfinals
- HS highlight reel: Seniors shine at soccer all-star game
- Crop of young players bodes well for Springdale boys basketball team