By Collin Brooks
Millie Williams and her friend Emma Cate Mooney may only be 13 years old, but that doesn’t stop them from performing selfless acts, and it definitely doesn’t stop them from calling out community members.
For the friends’ 13th birthday, in lieu of gifts, the duo asked for donations to the Children’s Advocacy Center of the First Judicial District in the amount of $688. But Williams said she has a personal challenge for community members.
“I do want to challenge other individuals or businesses to match our donation or even double that,” Williams said, not breaking a smile.
CAC Executive Director Lemy Dao, said that the agency can always use donations from the public, and that she was surprised when the girls presented her a check with the amount.
“I had no idea that Millie and Emma Cate had done that for their birthdays,” she said. “We are always looking for donations. We receive a good amount of grant money, which we rely on pretty heavily for operational expenses. But we also depend on donations from people within the community.
The CAC provides services to children who have been severely physically and or sexually abused within the First Judicial District that includes Washington, Carter, Unicoi and Johnson Counties. At their office, they provide forensic interviews for children who have just disclosed abuse and they also have therapy and medical examines for children as needed.
Williams’ mother, Erin, had served on the board for the CAC for years, which is where Millie and Emma Cate got the idea to donate to that organization. But the duo got the idea to collect money for donations instead of presents for their birthday from Millie’s older brother, Cooper, who gathered money instead of a gift to donate for his 13th birthday.
Erin said that she was proud of the decision that her daughter made.
“It definitely warms your heart as a parent,” Erin Williams said. “You raise your kids and hope that you’ve taught them to care for others and understand that other people have struggles. So it’s great to see her support a worthy cause.”
But that didn’t mean that the girls weren’t surprised when they began to count the money they had accumulated.
“I was so surprised,” Millie, a Liberty Bell student said. “I was blown away by how much money we are able to raise.”
Williams and Mooney’s money was designated to go toward a building expansion that the CAC had done about four years ago, which allows them to provide multiple services at the same time. They are still trying to pay off that addition, which has about $60,000 remaining.
They are hoping to cover that cost with the capital campaign they kicked off last August, which has already raised $30,000 to go toward the balance.
Anyone wanting to donate is encouraged to visit www.cac1st.org and click the donate button. All donations are tax deductible.