Brooklyn's blackberries helping children worldwide

Wednesday , July 23, 2014 - 10:16 AM

KAYSVILLE — It all started out small, the size of a blackberry, and has grown from there.

Now, Brooklyn McKenzie, 8, is looking to raise $800 this year by selling homemade jam and bread, dollars she will donate to help offset the cost for the adoption of Maddie, a 4-year-old little girl from China who is shy, clever and has Down syndrome.

Brooklyn says the dollars she raises will go to a group known as Rods Racing, which helps Down syndrome children in orphanages across the world find permanent homes through adoption.

Knowing her petite size limits her from competing in the triathlons and marathons Rods Racing generally hosts to raise funds for such an effort, Brooklyn instead sticks with the homemade bread and jam she sells, throwing her proceeds in with the group.

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Brooklyn, daughter of Brian and Melanie McKenzie of Kaysville, was recognized by the Davis County Commission at its weekly Tuesday meeting.

But being the saleswoman that she is, before Brooklyn left the meeting, she managed to sell about half-a-dozen jars of jam and loaves of homemade bread she just happened to have on hand.

This isn’t Brooklyn’s first effort to help others.

Three years ago, Brooklyn said, she got a new cousin, who just like Maddie lived in an orphanage, but he was in Russia.

“My aunt and my uncle needed a lot of money to adopt him. I was picking blackberries in my backyard with my mom. We had so many. My mom asked me what we should do with all the berries and I said, ’We should sell them to help buy my new cousin.’ So, that what we started doing.”

That year Brooklyn was able to raise $300 for her aunt and uncle.

Last year, Brooklyn organized another effort to sell jam, raising $562 for a little boy named Vaughn.

This year Brooklyn is stretching her entrepreneurial skills, in hopes of being able to raise between $800 to $1,000 for Maddie’s adoption.

“One of my neighbors wanted to help me raise money for Maddie, so she is making homemade bread to sell with the jam,” Brooklyn said.

Mom and dad couldn’t be more proud.

“I think any father is excited when they see their child doing something for someone else,” Brian McKenzie said of his daughter.

McKenzie said most of the fruit used in the jams his daughter sells is grown either in their or theirs neighbors’ backyards.

The effort has also received donations from Bowman’s Market and Sam’s Club, in addition to friends, neighbors and of course those who donate by buying the jam and bread, he said.

To keep things easy for Brooklyn when it comes to pricing she has made up her own little jingle. “I sell them for $5, $6, $7 or $8, whatever you would like to donate,” she says, always with a smile.

And to think it all started with some extra backyard blackberries.

Those interested in helping can also donate directly to Rods Racing by visiting www.rodsracing.org.

Contact reporter Bryon Saxton at 801-625-4244 or bsaxton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @BryonSaxton.

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