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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Top Stories > General

11-year-old makes generous donation for her birthday

Jan 13, 2020

By Samantha Montagna - reporter/photographer

By: SAMANTHA MONTAGNA | DEMOCRAT
From left, Annette Rein, Alexandria MacGhee, Manuela Miramontes, and Pedro Agosto stand outside the 1st Way Life Center in Monticello. MacGhee recently donated handbags and toiletries to help those in need.
MONTICELLO — Alexandria MacGhee is no ordinary 11-year-old. While most birthdays are an opportunity to ask for gifts, MacGhee decided to dedicate her special day to helping others.
Annette Rein, the director of 1st Way Life Center in Monticello, was amazed by the generosity of MacGhee, who decided to donate handbags with items such as gloves, hats, feminine products, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, jewelry, socks, and tissues in them. To date, MacGhee and her family have donated 56 handbags to the center with plans to donate more.
The 1st Way Life Center was founded 10 years ago and is located at 3 Prince Street in Monticello. They are a pro-life organization with a heavy focus on helping women and men through whatever problems they may be struggling with from drugs to homelessness to unexpected pregnancies at no cost to them.

They offer psychological and religious counseling with what Rein calls a compassionate approach to help those dealing with life's most severe problems. They also work with Sullivan County, the local Red Cross and United Way.
They currently accept donations such as baby/children's items including diapers, food, toys and formula, adult clothing, hygiene products, furniture and more. These donations can be accepted Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between the hours of 9-3 p.m. Those who wish to donate can also call and schedule a time to donate if those times do not work.
The bags will most likely go to the warming station in the Ted Stroebele Center. The center gives people a place to get out of the cold and a place to sleep.
Rein says, “Hygiene stuff is always needed because women cannot buy these products with food stamps.” Rein met MacGhee's mother, Manuela Miramontes, approximately 7 years ago. Since then, Miramontes and her family have been dedicated volunteers. When MacGhee was asked about why she wanted to give up her birthday presents, she responded, “Because when I see homeless people, they look so sad. I want to see them be happy. I want to do my best to help them.”
MacGhee is the second oldest child in her family and has five brothers. Since she lives with five brothers, she understands the importance “to stand up for yourself,” but also to “spread kindness.”
Even in her own school, where she is a 5th grader who loves to learn about science and the atmosphere, she gravitates towards friends that are nice and kind. She hopes to one day become a veterinarian.
For the time being, at least, MacGhee said her goal was simply “to help people who don't have stuff.”
Rein noted that there are “at least 200 homeless people in Monticello, but there are more.”
She said the 1st Way Life Center helps people with blankets, food, transportation and other needs, but finding a stable place to live is hard, and it is a problem here in Sullivan County, according to Rein.
She says, “the sense of hopelessness is pervasive. It's right here.” Rein admires MacGhee and her family so much because of their dedication and because they are bringing attention to this problem. Rein says, “when more people come in [for help,] the more we know what the needs are.”
Rein ended the interview by stating, “we want to make a difference. We want to make sure no baby goes without. We want to make sure no mother [feels] so desperate.”
With people like MacGhee and her family, Monticello's cold streets are a little warmer.

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