Zoe has an unusual outlook when it comes to birthdays. The 8-year-old isn’t interested in getting presents on her special day. Instead, she’s determined to give to others. In December, Zoe donated the gifts and money she received for her birthday to patients at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
This isn’t the first time Zoe’s given away her birthday gifts. When she was 5 she asked the grownups in her family for money instead of gifts, which she then donated to the Animal Humane Society in Woodbury, Minn. Last year, she sent her birthday money to an orphanage in Guatemala.
Zoe’s mom, Carmen Colombo, says her daughter has always had a generous, and somewhat practical, spirit. “The first year she could really understand what Christmas was about, I asked her what she wanted,” says Colombo. “She said she wanted a picture of her family to hang in her room. That was all she asked for that year.”
Of course, Zoe’s generosity could be because of her giving family. Colombo and her husband, Brian Colombo, match Zoe’s donations, this year bringing the family’s total gift to $710. And Zoe’s grandmother, Corrinne Reed, is a longtime Gillette supporter through the employee giving campaign at Dairy Queen.
When Dairy Queen randomly selected Reed to represent the company at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Celebration 2012, Reed says, “I knew immediately that I wanted to take Zoe with me.” There Zoe met many of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champions, kids from around the country who have disabilities, chronic conditions or cancer. “I thought it would be a life-changing experience for her,” says Reed, “and it was.”
Now Zoe’s more determined than ever to help change the lives of others. “I started paying attention and noticed that a lot of people need help,” explains Zoe. “I thought I should help.”