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9-year-old Kokomo girl raises funds for storm victim

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Nine-year-old Kyndal Mellady gave tornado victim Phyllis Rawlins three important gifts Sunday: hope, peace and love.

They came in the form of bracelets.

Since a tornado hit Kokomo on Nov. 17, Kyndal has been making bracelets and selling them for $1, with the goal of raising $300 to give to someone impacted by the tornado. More than 320 bracelets and several generous donations later, the Western Intermediate School third grader had collected $624, the Kokomo Tribune reports.

She met Rawlins, a Kokomo resident, near the empty lot on East Ricketts Street where Rawlins' home had stood before the tornado blew it onto Home Avenue. Kyndal presented the money and three bracelets—with tags that read "hope," ''peace" and "love"—to Rawlins.

The gift made quite an impact.

"I knew she was happy because right after I gave her the money and we left, I saw Mrs. Rawlins in the car bawling," Kyndal said. "That made me feel like she was really happy to have the money."

Kyndal's softball coach, Mark Strunk, introduced her to Rawlins. He and her mother, Maria Toney, were there to see Kyndal present the fruits of her labor to Rawlins. Kyndal remained modest, saying "it didn't take much time" to make all the bracelets.

"It was a cold, bitter day, but there was a lot of warmth in the meeting," Toney said. "She worked very hard. She came up with the idea after her school had talked about it. She decided she wanted to do it on her own at home and raise money for one person. My little girl put a lot of heart into it."

Rawlins plans to use a portion of the money to make a plaque for herself with Kyndal's name and the date of her gift, so she can remember the occasion.

"I wish you blessings because you have touched my heart," Rawlins said as she hugged Kyndal. "I will never forget you."

Despite losing the home she built with her late husband, Rawlins said she has been blessed in the aftermath of the tornado and called Kyndal her "little angel."

"This community has been super to me," she said. "It's been people like this, who I don't even know, who have surprised me. I'm so thankful."

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